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Up for a Lenten Transformation?

Give up these 5 habits over the next 40 days and elevate your spiritual awakening What’s your Lent team? #TeamNoMeat? #TeamNoAlcohol? #TeamNoChocolate? #TeamNoTV? I’ve joined all these teams at some point in my life, and I’ll proudly admit that I’ve never lasted more than a week sticking to my pledged 40-day sacrifice. In fact, my […]

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Give up these 5 habits over the next 40 days and elevate your spiritual awakening

What’s your Lent team? #TeamNoMeat? #TeamNoAlcohol? #TeamNoChocolate? #TeamNoTV?

I’ve joined all these teams at some point in my life, and I’ll proudly admit that I’ve never lasted more than a week sticking to my pledged 40-day sacrifice. In fact, my New Year’s resolutions have lasted days longer than the ones for Lent. 

I have no idea why I lack the willpower to give up one thing for a finite period of time, but I know with certainty that I’m not alone with the lack of “stick-through-it-ness” required to hold up high the proverbial championship trophy of completion. 

Some of you reading this are on my new team: #TeamTooWeak.

Where’s our self-control? Why do we give up so easily? 

I believe I have the answer, but first, what the heck is Lent?

According to the United Methodist Church, “Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry.” For Christians, it is a time for self-reflection, fasting, and sacrifice. 

Wait…What? Excluding Sundays? So now it’s more like 45 days? I feel tricked. 

My Catholic brain wants to know how I missed this significant bit of catechism.

Anyway, back to why so many of us can’t get past week one (or is it weak won) of Lent. I have two theories.

First, the kinds of ‘sacrifices’ we traditionally give up as a symbolic gesture of the 40 days of starvation and torture Christ endured, really are hollow. Sugar? Facebook? Beer? Come on.

Second, the entire season is, frankly, depressing. Low vibration, for sure. Who wants to experience that feeling for a month and a half? “I do!” said no one.

But how can we make the Lenten sacrifices result into a high-energy, enjoyably transformational, resulting in lifelong personal growth? And what should Americans do if they want to make this experience a solemn, yet innately positive one?

Here are 5 habits to give up and replace with more useful ones.

1. Humility

Why? It’s an energy-sucking, confidence-draining emotion that results in feelings of inadequacy. 

Besides, if the Great I Am told everyone that He was great, then you might want to follow His lead. 

Replace it with Self-Gratitude Journaling. Jot down 5 daily experiences that you demonstrated your inherent goodness to others.

2. Voice Suppression 

We were meant to share our respective perspectives with each other in order to elevate our lived experiences. When we mute our voice, we are dishonoring our elders who helped to shape who we are now when they shared their wisdom and offered their guidance.

Replace it with Honoring Your Father and Mother or Elder.  Reflect daily on memories whether they are living or gone, and share via social media as a means to honor their memory and the impact their teachings have had on our lives. 

3. Limiting Beliefs

This is the by-product of that word we need to unlearn – humility. Here’s why. These recurring thought patterns of being incapable and insufficient, reduces the light and gift that we are all because of…FEAR. It’s time to get busy ditching the “I can’t because…” and stepping fully into your true purpose.

Replace it with Spiritual Alignment. Deepen your relationship with God through self-exploratory practices to identify your true voice. Use self-care methods such as meditation, prayer, contemplation, or journaling.

4. Tuning Out

The world is one continuous, horns-blaring, traffic jam of noise. And it’s not a symphony, either. The news, pandemic, along with social media, all add to the tension and anxiety we can feel in our bodies. There is a lot going on. We need to turn down the volume a bit for our sanity.

Replace it with Tuning In.  For at least one hour a day, turn everything off – the radio, TV, cell phone, and go for a walk (without the phone) or do nothing. 

5. Sacrifice

Sacrifice implies giving up or giving away something unwillingly. With malice. 

“I did it for the greater good,” begs the question, “What about my greater good?”

Yuck. 

Negative connotation. Icky feeling even writing it. This one’s gotta go, too

Replace it with an Outpouring of Love. Create and seek opportunities every day to genuinely show appreciation, love, and compassion to others. 

Do any of these actions and we will come into the Easter experience as energized and enlightened beings with hearts opened wide to give kindnesses unceasingly.

Now, doesn’t that feel more doable? #TeamComplete.

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