Lenten Sacrifices: Something Simple for God

Here are several simplifications for your life that you might consider during Lent

Cover of ‘Simplifying the Soul’ by Paula Huston
Cover of ‘Simplifying the Soul’ by Paula Huston (photo: Ave Maria Press)

Lenten resolutions. We make them, we break them, we take them so seriously. We resist chocolate or cigarettes or soda or sweets. But are we changed, after 40 days of deprivation?

I was inspired recently by a little book I read, Simplifying the Soul, by Paula Huston. In it, Huston suggests small sacrifices for each of the days of Lent, thereby making more room for God in your life and in your heart. Her ideas are not the typical deprivations that first come to mind. Instead, she encourages the reader to “simplify the soul” by simplifying part of everyday life — like money, schedules and relationships.

Perhaps you — with your separate set of sins and personal challenges — would stop at a different page, ponder a different resolution. As for me, I was inspired by her suggestion that I simplify my space by scrubbing a dirty corner.

I could see the logic in that simple exercise, and so was born one of my Lenten sacrifices: Clean out the junk drawer. Junk drawers (plural), actually. In the kitchen, besides the silverware and essentials, I stash plastic utensils, restaurant menus, souvenir matchbooks, condiments still in their plastic pouches, expired coupons, twist ties — you get the picture. In the guest bedroom I’ve got old business cards, old greeting cards, broken jewelry, pens that don’t work, shoes that don’t fit, minutes from meetings from companies where I no longer work. In the bathroom are hotel soaps, old makeup, a sewing kit, four hairbrushes …

Those things are there because I hate — hate! — spending my time on housework when there are books to be read, movies to be watched, sodas to be sipped, flowers to be planted, games to be played. For me, cleaning a drawer will be an earnest giving of myself for a higher good. If I pray while I organize, so much the better!

Here are some other (unusual, but effective) Lenten simplifications that you might consider:

  • If you’re a fashion-plate: Don’t wear earrings.
  • If you’re foodie: Have a simple grilled-cheese sandwich and soup.
  • If you’re an avid reader: Switch up from mysteries to spiritual reading, at least in the evening.
  • If you’re an armchair athlete: Consider whether you might skip watching one game this weekend, and do something special with the kids.

As you strive to conform your will to Christ’s during this Lenten season, are there any unusual fasts or penances you’ve imposed on yourself? Please share your ideas in the comments!

And may you arrive at Easter Sunday filled with joy and holiness.