Whenever I say I participate in Lent, I get mixed reactions because I am not a particularly religious person. While I would not consider myself a devout Catholic or even a practicing Christian, Lent is one of the seasonal traditions I still opt to participate in.
First and foremost, I believe that religion is something that exists to serve the individual in the way the individual sees fit–the individual does live to serve the religion as an institution. This is why I don’t see any problems with participating in Lent as I choose, even if I do not receive Eucharist every Sunday. Because suppose there is a God, then He would have enough love and compassion for everyone regardless of their participation in religion.
Secondly, I participate in Lent because it is a focused time for me to change certain behaviors or to reflect on my life. Lent is a practice that allows me to develop healthy habits and establish productive and positive change in my life. I think that everyone at some point should participate in at least one Lenten goal, whether it is giving something up or trying to change a certain behavior.
Lastly, the struggle and growth that comes out of Lent is beautiful. Lent was based on Jesus’ fast in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights, being tempted by Satan every single day. Not everyone will know that I have given up the certain foods listed, but I will know why and being able to commit to such a public (though not explicit) goal is incredibly difficult. However, it will never be the hardest thing ever. It is simply a challenging self-restraint exercise. A lot of personal growth happens from my own self-restraint and often become permanent behavioral changes.
Items I’m Giving Up:
- Salty snacks
- Adding extra salt and pepper to my food
- Carbonated beverages (not just soda)
- Red meat while also trying to aim towards being more pescatarian
While some may consider these superficial, I like to continue giving up food items mainly for my own health. I think that abstaining from certain foods also makes me more empathetic towards those with eating restrictions, whether self-imposed or not.
Behaviors I’m trying to implement or improve:
- Spend 60 seconds every day remembering my time in the Emergency Department, using that passion to drive me towards my goals
- I want to do this because the Emergency Department brought me more joy than I could describe, and I think it’s important to remind myself what type of life I’m striving towards.
- Do not initiate communication with someone.
- While I feel close to this person, sometimes I feel like the relationship is confusing and my reliance on having this relationship in my life seems unhealthy at times. I want to make sure I can stand on my own two feet. While I am not ending a relationship with this person, I think it’s important for me to take a step back and to truly look at the relationship for what it is, the good and the bad.
- Read for pleasure at least four times a week.
- Do strength exercises at least once a week in hopes of developing at least a once-a-week type of habit.
- Instead of focusing on my grades, to enjoy my love of learning.