Lent: can anyone participate?

Lent isn’t something I normally give thought to. It’s something that most of my friends observe and when the season comes around, I follow along on Facebook and Twitter to see what they’ll be giving up.

However this year, while perusing my Facebook news feed, my friend Mahesh posted he might give up coffee for Lent. My immediate thought was “we’re Indian. Since when do Indians participate in Lent?” Is my friend a Christian and I just didn’t know this about him and if so, I’m a bad friend and shouldn’t judge.

But then I realized something. Lent doesn’t have to belong to any particular group of people. Lent is an act of self control and discipline. It’s something that anyone can practice much like a New Year’s resolution but with a limited time frame. The 40 days of Lent ask that you give up something, perhaps to better yourself or break a habit vs a New Year’s resolution that asks you spend a year focusing on this activity and any goals you make, which given the time frame of 365 days, you might procrastinate or never do.

In 40 days, Lent allows you to better yourself, focus on other priorities, and perhaps discover a new skill or hobby. This season might belong to the Christians but it’s 40 days that anyone can use for any purpose. If you’re not religious (like myself), you can even give it another name.  The point is: we all need motivation to drop a habit or start something. Sometimes it takes us 40 days to get there. Why not give it a great name and get started?

Furthermore, at the end of your 40 days, you should realize that your personal “Lent” or whatever you decide to call it has changed your life for good and that whatever you decided to quit or start will continue even after the 40 days are up.

photo credit: rogiro via photopin cc

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  • http://www.drdeadline.com Rick Clark

    “Lent” is a religious event, not so much about giving up something you like, to learn a new behavior or strengthen your self discipline; it is an act of penance in preparation for the celebration of Christ’s sacrifice. The secular reasons one would chose to go through a similar period of self denial may all be well intentioned and of good purpose but labeling them with the Lenten identity serves no purpose.

    Ask your practicing Catholic friends about everything else that is part of Lent. An emphasis must be placed on performing spiritual works, like attending the Stations of the Cross, attending Mass, making a weekly holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament, taking time for personal prayer and spiritual reading and most especially making a good confession and receiving sacramental absolution.

    If one isn’t a follower of Christ, what is the attraction to borrowing this word?

    • http://about.me/sukhrajbeasla Sukhraj Beasla

      Rick,

      I completely understand that Lent is religious. What I’m trying to say here is that anyone can take the same 40 days and apply it to a self discipline to better themselves. It doesn’t have to be called Lent.

      The true idea is that you can take 40 days to better yourself. :)

      • http://www.drdeadline.com Rick Clark

        You’re totally right! Take 40 days, or 30 days, or 90 days (P90X), or whatever. Every day is a good day to start. We all have room for improvement.

        So, “Lent: can anyone participate?” Literally, no. Figuratively yes.