When we come up with our Lenten sacrifices, they can easily end up a little bit self-serving at the same time.
We give up "eating out." But, well, we wanted to save some money (or calories) anyway. We give up smoking, but we know we shouldn't be smoking so much anyway. We give up Facebook, but we know we spend too much time on Facebook already. Etc.
These aren't bad Lenten sacrifices. But there is an easy way to make such a sacrifice even better.
Take the money you would have spent on eating out or smoking or whatever it is and…give it away instead. Take the time you would have spent doing those things and instead spend that time in prayer. And rather than thinking about your own struggles the whole time, take a moment in solidarity to think about all those around the world who will never even have the option to "eat out" or to spend too much time on Facebook or to even experience something you may be giving up this Lent.
Try it. We aren't just sacrificing things this Lent for the sake of removing bad things. We're sacrificing things so that we can make more room in our lives for God. So yes, remove some things from your life that are less worthy of being there, but make sure you fill that space with something Good. Allow God to fill that space. Prepare to fully receive Him at Easter.
One easy way to do that is through the CRS Rice Bowl effort. Not only does it give you an easy (and worthy) place to put the money you give up, but for each week of Lent they are sharing a great Lenten recipe/meal you can make for each Friday. The coolest part is that the recipes come from different parts/cultures of the world where life is very different than it is here (like Burkina Faso, East Timor, Dominican Republic, Lesotho and Pakistan). And along with each recipe is a corresponding inspirational story that teaches you a little bit about the culture that recipe came from.
It's brilliant and I plan to do this with my family over the coming weeks. But no matter what you do, this Lent, try giving away some of what you give up. Allow God to fill the space you are making for him.
Photo by David Snyder for CRS
What are you giving up and giving away this Lent?