happy lent

Today is Ash Wednesday. I've never observed Lent, but I'd like to this year. I just don't know what to practice or give up. A lot of people do health-related things, like stopping eating sweets or carbs, and even more people fast from social media, like Facebook and Twitter.

I can't do either of those. Not because I can't live a day without chocolate or Facebook, but because they have selfish undertones (we're only talking about me here; everyone who is giving up these things, you rock). My mind just isn't that pure in intentions. Giving up sweets is accompanied by a tiny thought that says "Oo, I'd probably lose a few pounds and I bet my skin would clear up." Not the right mindset. Not the right focus.

Giving up Facebook would be a cop-out. "Well, I don't know what else to do and everyone gives up Facebook, so I might as well. It wouldn't be a bad thing." Again, not exactly where I want my thoughts to be.

I want to do something that truly puts the focus on Jesus, because I haven't been focusing on Him at all. I'm a person who needs some kind of structure, but not something so formulated that I get stuck in routine. I feel a bit stuck.

Last year I wanted to stop spending extra money (coffee, fro-yo, that cute shirt at Target that's only $9.99), but I didn't commit to it. I also didn't share the information with anyone, so there was zero accountability.

Maybe that's my thing. Maybe I'll try it again. I'm already broke as a joke, but when I'm alone in my apartment for an entire day, nothing sounds better than going to Peet's and getting a coffee so I can at least be around people.

It adds up.

I'll have a list when I grocery shop, but there is always something in the cart I don't actually need. This Lent season would include those items. Foregoing everything extra and scaling back the necessary purchases.

This will be hard for me. When I'm not working, I don't have much else to do. I can only sit around for so long before I start going crazy. This usually results, like I said, in escaping to a coffee shop. If I'm gonna sit around, I might as well sit around with other people! But everyone knows you can't take up precious seating without buying something. I normally get a black coffee—a mere $1.80 subtraction to my bank account—but again: it adds up.

This is where the "focusing on Jesus" part will be genuine. I'm feeling lonely? Unproductive? Lazy? Then instead of filling my time by wasting money (and gas for that matter), I'll be on my knees praying. I'll be taking someone else out for coffee and enjoying their company and thanking Jesus for relationships. I'll be investing in learning how to love Jesus better, and consequently how to love others better too.

I think generosity will be a huge part of this, because if I'm simply not spending money on myself, there is still a small benefit for me— I'm saving money whooo! But I don't want that. The money I would normally spend on things for me will be spent treating other people.

There is so much ridding of myself that I need to do. On a personal level, the second month of graduate-life is much different than the first. But I will spare you all those emotional details.

Happy Lent, everyone.

What will you guys be doing?