During Lent, a person chooses to give up something of significant value in their lives for forty days. It could be a temporal temptation such as television, or a more spiritual sacrifice, such as overcoming a bad habit, or an addiction. This act of self-denial for self-improvement is a personal and usually private sacrifice not only to increase piety, but to remind oneself that to truly live a more excellent life there are things that must be left behind to achieve it; i.e. bad habits, sugar, salt, laziness, poisonous people, places and patterns that are unhealthy and unworthy of one’s time and energy. They choose to sacrifice what ‘enslaves’ them, at least for forty days, to live a better, healthier, and happier life. The choices lead to changes that either become temporary or transformational. Hopefully the latter.
This pious process of penitence takes patience and it is not always a piece of cake; but that’s the point, right? Lent is a purposeful denial of things of a lesser value to make room for and to obtain things of a higher value. These forty days aren't meant to be only a transition of time, but a transformation of life. It’s not just about having less for forty days, but obtaining more peace and happiness during the other 325 days of the year and for the rest of our lives.
Therefore, I encourage and challenge each you to take time for real reflection about the direction you are living your life. Are truly seeking out the more excellent and exalting experiences? I know it’s not easy to keep looking up and moving forward when there seems to be so many distractions and destructions from our past to decoy and detour us from living better in our present. It can be easy to lose sight of who we are and where we’re going if we only focus on where we’ve been. I’ve found that focusing on my direction, not my perfection, or imperfections, allows me to continue moving forward, despite life’s frustrations, detours and dead-ends.
No, we don’t have to observe Lent for these principles to have an inspired impact on the quality of our lives and relationships. We can make new commitments to excel and expel anything that is weighing us down, holding us back and keeping us from reaching our own resurrections of dreams, joys and hopes for our futures. Today, let us each strive to thrive, not just survive, and choose to live a more excellent way of life!