Forty days can be a very long time if you’re going without your favorite sweet treat or reducing screen time.
When Lent kicks off there’s a bit of a buzz as you decide to do something meaningful to mark this special period of time in the Christian faith. However, all those good intentions start to wane as the weeks go by and the realities and stresses of everyday life take over.
With the global situation creating uncertainty and anxiety, it seems doubly hard to not succumb to temptation and head to that cookie jar, but hold your horses, you can do this! There are less than three weeks to go until we celebrate Christ’s Resurrection, and just think how satisfying it will be to know that you held on for those 40 long days!
I know it’s easier said than done (as I longingly eye the tin filled with chocolate and cookies), but there are some useful ways to stick to your commitments:
1. MAKE ACCESS DIFFICULT
Remember my chocolate and cookie tin? Well, I need to follow my own advice and stash it away. If you’re giving up a certain snack or drink, place any that have been left in an area that’s hard to reach. If things get drastic you could lock it up and get someone to hide the key.
If you want to reduce screen time, try putting your phone or laptop in a drawer so you won’t be tempted to look at it every few minutes.
2. BE INSPIRED BY JESUS
You could add an image of Jesus, or maybe a crucifix, next to any temptations so that you’ll have a physical reminder of why you are making this effort.
3. PASS ON THE PLEASURE
If some of your kind friends give you something you’ve given up, take pleasure in offering it to someone else. For example, if gifted a box of chocolates, you could give it to your children’s school teacher, or take it to a senior facility. Be sure to let your friends know so that they can share in the act of kindness.
If you’re finding it hard to stick to your guns, make sure your loved ones are aware. My eldest son inadvertently came home with a box of Coke Zero, knowing how much I like it. Stupidly, I hadn’t told him I’d given it up for Lent, so for a few brief moments before I gave it to my neighbor, I had to stare at my favorite drink!
By telling friends and families that you’re giving up something important to you, they can offer you encouragement and support — and keep their cookie jar far from your wandering eyes if you visit. Also, kids are great at being your support squad, although they’ll be your strongest critics, too. My children would have been so disappointed in me if I’d cracked and opened up a can of Coke Zero, and it’s my job to set an example byl showing some restraint.
5. CHOOSE A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE
Instead of thinking about what you’re giving up, think more about what you are gaining. Whether it’s a healthier diet or a greater understanding of the power of temptation, use this opportunity to embrace the whole 40 days as a beautiful spiritual journey bringing you even closer to God.
6. SEEK A LITTLE HELP FROM ABOVE
Jesus faced temptation by the devil, yet he resisted, using the Word of God to guide Him. Lean on Him for inspiration and follow his example to offer your temporary suffering to God our Father.