I did not grow up observing Lent. Now, I love Lent.
Beginning on Ash Wednesday (which is tomorrow), Lent is a season of reflection and preparation before the celebrations of Easter. By observing the 40 days of Lent, Christians replicate Jesus Christ's sacrifice and withdrawal into the desert for 40 days. Lent is marked by fasting, both from food and festivities.
It is a time of self-examination and self-denial.
For years, our church has challenged people to not only give up something, but also to take on something. If you have not observed Lent and are trying to decide what to give up, you can look at it a number of ways. You can give up something that you feel like distracts you from your relationship with God (people have given up television, social media, etc.) You can also give up something that you feel like you rely on to much or "need" too much. For example, people sometimes give up soft drinks, desert, etc. By giving up something that you crave, it forces you to turn to God when you would normally turn to something else for comfort. I have also given up things that I believe are detrimental to my soul in the past. For example, one year, I gave up "negative self-talk." The act of sacrifice during Lent helps us focus on the sacrifices of Christ. Historically, some people would fast. I have also had friends that try to fast from a meal each day of Lent.
We also encourage people to "take on" a new habit or discipline. For example, some friends have committed to daily Bible study, daily gratitude, or taking on other habits throughout the season of Lent.
Each week, Sunday is excluded from Lent. This means that you can "indulge" in whatever you give up on Sundays.
This year I am giving up all "electronics" between 6 pm and 9 pm.  The only exception is that I can watch a television show with my entire family if they choose to do that for part of our family time.   I have found that social media, responding to work emails, online shopping, and similar activities distract me from valuable time with my family.  I could also use that time to relax, craft, read, or do other more beneficial activities.  I am also "taking on" leading an online Bible study.  The study will help me read and reflect on the life of Jesus each day.  
Have you observed Lent in the past? If so, what have you given up or taken on? What do you love or dislike about Lent? Have you learned any lessons from the season of Lent? 


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