I’ve always made an effort to leave the season of Lent as a better Christian and a better person overall. After experiencing plenty of Lents giving up chocolate or music, I found that giving up a favorite food or something I enjoy doesn’t leave me with a lasting goodness that I can take with me beyond those 40 days.
Therefore, for the past few years, I’ve made it my mission to use Lent to do something to better myself for the long-term. I want to make a meaningful change that lasts beyond the season of Lent and ultimately helps me become the best version of myself.
One year during Lent, I wrote a letter to God every night. I love writing in my journal, and I’ve always enjoyed using it as a way to relax and reflect on my day. With the busyness of everyday life, I don’t always get a chance to write in my journal as much as I would like, so I thought Lent would be the perfect time to make that commitment.
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In my letters, I let God know where I’ve seen his work throughout the day, I prayed for difficult situations, and I thanked him for all the goodness he has brought to my life. Writing these letters helped me to grow my relationship with God and practice gratitude that I have taken with me beyond the Lenten season.
When I was in college, I made a Lenten commitment to not use my phone when walking in-between classes on campus or when traveling to get somewhere. To encourage myself to be more aware of my surroundings, my thoughts, and not have a constant distraction, I practiced being present in the moment for 40 days. That meant each time I walked from class to class, I used that time to silently pray for loved ones and appreciate my surroundings instead of mindlessly scrolling through my social media feeds.
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I found that I noticed and appreciated the flowers around campus and I was able to reflect on my day and put my thoughts into something more productive than comparing myself to seemingly perfect social media feeds. I still practice this “no-phone commute” when I find myself getting too caught up with screen time and too distant from my present thoughts, feelings, and surroundings.
This year, I’m making a Lenten commitment to arrive early to events throughout the year. As a go-getter and someone who feels the need to do it all, I frequently schedule events back-to-back and run from one thing to another. This packed schedule often results in me showing up frazzled from a rushed commute or making others wait on me when I’m late. I want to be more relaxed and prepared as I go about my day and show the people around me that they deserve someone who will not be rushed to meet them, but who is relaxed and prepared to enjoy quality time. I hope that I can continue to be present in meaningful ways such as spending time in prayer or reflection.
My hope is that by the end of this Lenten season I’ll be better at being there for others, I’ll be a little more relaxed and reflective as I go throughout my day, and I’ll be one step closer to being my best self.
Originally published on April 9, 2020.