My daughter, Mandy, like any other child couldn’t wait to blow her tenth candles. Her age hitting two digits; for her it was like hitting adulthood. She wanted the best party ever, with balloons and party hats, chocolate crackles and corn dog muffins, clowns and magic tricks (I remember she even mentioned ponies). My husband and I started putting some money aside for her big day. The countdown started two months before her birthday and almost every day she would add an extra item to her wish list for her dream party. Jumping up and down on her bed, running from one room to another non-stop, she became a small ball of energy.
So, when “I am giving up my birthday for Lent” came from her tiny mouth a week before her big day, I was completely taken by surprise. Their teacher told them to think about what they wanted to give up for Lent. Mandy thought for a while and decided that lost and injured puppies made her really sad and she wanted to help them. “Mum, I want to donate the money to a hospital and rescue center for animals.”
On the way back from Animal Aid, I asked her if she was disappointed on missing out her birthday party. She grinned at me and said that the receptionist promised her that she will be allowed to visit the doggies and play with them, whenever she wanted! I knew that she had got her best birthday gift.
Every year we try to think of something new to give up for Lent but end up sticking with giving up Facebook or not using the elevator while climbing up three floors. . I was like every other Christian, giving up one meal and some bad habit during these forty days till my daughter turned it upside down for me.
We cut out certain luxuries or indulgences in order to live a healthier life or to save money. While these practices benefit us and help us get rid of our bad habits, we should also try to think of something which will help others. By helping others, we will surely serve God, which is the main purpose of Lent.
This year some of the things you can do during lent is:
- Donate. Take the money that you have saved for skipping movie night and donate it to some charity. Donate something that you don’t use. Make a whole box of these somethings. Drop them off at a charity; others can put your clutter to good use.
- Write a letter each day to people who have touched your life. Make a list of 40 such people.
A lot of time people feel cut off from their friends and family and feel very alone. Just let them know that you are thinking of them and that they are important to you. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, something small will do fine.
- Practise active listening. Sometimes what people need is simply someone who will listen to them with kindness and without judgment.
- Stop to help. If you see someone on the street who is struggling to carry all their groceries or who needs money for a bus fare, lend them a helping hand.
- Teach. Take the time to teach someone a skill you know. It could be teaching your grandpa how to use email or teaching your child how to ride a bike.
- Just be there when someone is in need. Sit with them, talk with them, listen to their problems.
- Show your appreciation publicly. Praising someone in front of your friends, coworkers or family can make them feel great about themselves.
- Love. Express your love to others; whether it’s your child, partner or some other member of your family. A hug, a kind word and spending time; it all matters more than you know.
These were some ideas regarding what you can do during the Lenten period. For many, Lent means spiritual self-improvement through sacrifice. It’s often all about what to “give up” for Lent. But it is not always about focusing on ourselves.
I hope you find happiness and satisfaction within yourself during this period.