Before we get started on this conversation about Lent, let’s take a quick look at its history. Becoming a Christian back in the days of Roman emperors was a process that took years of preparations and study. To conclude these studies, the people went through a purification and enlightenment process before they were baptized on Easter. To support the upcoming Christians, the rest of the church would join with them in the three pillars that make up Lent: prayer, fasting, and alms-giving. These three pillars are supposed to help remove the distractions that cause people to turn away from God, and ultimately help them turn back to Him.
Today, the road to baptism is not nearly as strict or ceremonial, but Lent still represents the three pillars. Plenty of believers (and non-believers) participate in Lent and refrain from certain foods or habits for the six weeks.
If you want to participate, but are not sure of what to give up, a good place to start is Twitter. This year there were over 69,000 Tweets about what people were giving up for Lent. There is a great top 100 list on Open Bible, based on Tweets from the week of February 26, 2017.
Here is one that made me giggle!
The site also has an archive of these top 100 lists, for each year, dating back to 2009, when there were only 1,459 Tweets on the subject!
Another great feature is the Lent Tracker which allows you to search specific items and see the percentage of Tweets about the item. I chose alcohol because it was the only item that ranked in the top five for all nine years.
(Photo credit: https://www.openbible.info/labs/lent-tracker/?q=alcohol)
You can also search multiple items to study correlations between them:
Sorry for geeking out on the data there for a minute, but I just can’t help myself.
Anyhoo, if all those suggestions can’t help you, maybe the latest post by Leo Babauta can help. He offers some great advice about which habits are hardest to break, what gets in the way of breaking them, and how to change them.
One of my goals in this journey through minimalism is to have a more substantial relationship with God. One of the ways I have been working on that is respecting my body more by changing my eating habits. So far, I have lost 15 pounds, but I still have a ways to go.
This year for Lent, I’ve given up chocolate, which is by far my biggest weakness, and sometimes sabotages my healthy-eating efforts. I’m hoping that its absence reminds the bigger reason why less is truly more.
I truly want, and pray regularly for, what God wants, more than what I want.
What does Lent mean to you? Leave me a comment or find me on Twitter.