Ìâ‰âÂÌâÅÒExcuse me, you've got some dirt on your head.' Every year someone says that to me on Ash Wednesday. Maybe it has happened to you too. In the past it used to frustrate me, but in recent years I have come to see it as a great opportunity to evangelize, to share with someone about the most important person in my life: Jesus Christ.
Every year since I've been a Catholic (five years and counting!), I've really loved coming up with different challenges for Lent. One year I gave up eating any meat, last year I read the bible for 30 minutes straight each day no matter what, you get the picture . . . Over the years I've come to realize that it's not just how much we give up or what extra stuff we do, but it’s about the quality of your sacrifice and what you decide to do.
How about giving up some of your time and using it for prayer? In fact, let me make the ultimate suggestion . . .
Are you looking for something unconventional to offer up for Lent? We asked Life Teen missionaries and our friends on Facebook for cool stuff they’ve done in the past. This is what they shared.
Then it happened. In a moment of weakness and stress, I found a Coke and failed my annual challenge once again. I was really frustrated. This was supposed to be the year that I finally got it right, the one Lent that I could finally prove to God and to myself that I could do it. I spent a day or two so frustrated that I couldn't bring myself to pray. I couldn't face the God who suffered and died for me when I couldn't give up a freaking soft drink.
I have refused sweets many times already this Lent. I don't refuse them because I'm scared of breaking a promise or afraid God will triple the calories for disobeying my Lenten commitment. I refuse the sweets because it's one of the things I decided to do for Lent. I'd rather take the seemingly sad situation as a chance to run to Jesus and unite my (puny) sufferings with His. I prefer to be moved and driven by love, not fear. Remember that we are the beloved. Notice that we word beloved breaks up into be-loved.
Here we are, on Fat Tuesday … and if you're like me, you're scrambling to decide what exactly you're giving up for the next 40 days. Will it be candy … no, procrastinating’Ìâ‰âÂÌâ_ or maybe you'll finally tackle that missing prayer time. The possibilities seem infinite and overwhelming. Before you know it, there are going to be ashes on your forehead and all your Catholic friends will be asking, 'So what did YOU give up this year?' Don't worry too much. I've been thinking about it, and I have some rock-solid advice on how to make this the most productive (and rewarding) Lent ever.