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Lent, should you abstain?

Many think of Lent as a time to give up something, such as chocolate or booze, but it is much more than that.

Lent is a very important event in the Christian calendar. Lent is the six week period leading up to Easter Sunday. The actual length is 46 days – however, 40 of these are fasting day and six are Sundays. Sundays in Lent are not counted in the forty days because each Sunday represents a “mini-Easter”.

The period of Lent is seen as a time of solemn observance and preparation for the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus at Easter. From its start on Ash Wednesday until its conclusion on Easter Sunday, Lent has been a traditional time for fasting or giving something up.

The fasting is meant to mirror the experience of Jesus Christ and his experience of fasting in the desert. Traditionally, Christians would fast during the 40 days of Lent, meaning they would have only one full meal a day and two small snacks. However, nowadays Christians choose to abstain from something in particular – like a food item or luxury like chocolate or caffeine, or a particular habit like drinking or smoking.

It has been reported that it takes 21 days to break a bad habit. So if you choose to break a habit like drinking or smoking, this is an opportune time to do so. What are some habits you could learn to get rid of during this time? Here are a few of my favorites:

1.) Resentment The first habit we want to axe from our bad habits list is good old resentment. Harboring resentment to anyone or anything really only harms you. It’s akin to the famous saying – “it’s like drinking poison and expecting somebody else to die from it.” There is no need to hold onto grudges from the past. Eventually resentment will eat a person from the inside out.

2.) Lack of Movement Remember, we have muscles for a reason: our bodies were built to move. Even if you don’t have a committed exercise routine, at the very minimum you should be walking and moving around as much as possible every single day. It’s almost as important as breathing oxygen.

3.) Procrastination The idea of “I’ll do it later” can be detrimental, especially if you are putting off getting healthy. Most of us experienced procrastination during our younger years, especially during college. Fond memories of knocking out a ten or twenty page paper the night before it was due, come to mind. It’s better to take care of things as they come. This will lower stress levels and set in motion a great habit!

4.) Irregular and Inadequate Sleep Some adults function just fine on five hours a night, while others require nine or ten hours. It is reported the average adult human requires seven hours of sleep at night. So, if you find yourself waking up groggy, needing a nap in the middle of the day or dozing right after a large dinner, you may need more sleep at night. Breaking the bad habit of screen time before bed (tv or phone), or staying up late to finish that work project must be broken.

5.) Energy Vampires You’ve run into these whether you realize it or not. Energy Vampires are people who suck the positive energy out of the room. In order to live your best life, you must learn to recognize who these people are. Cut these people out of your life. Remember - be you. Do you. For you!

So no matter what you give up, be it red meat or aggression, think seriously during those forty days about what you gave up and why. Forty days will pass quicker than you realize. At the end of it, you’ll get to experience the joy of breaking old bad habits AND the joy of knowing Jesus died and rose from the grave for YOU, no matter what your habits are!

Lent 2019 begins on Wednesday, March 6 and ends on Thursday, April 18

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