A Counselor’s Guide to Lent

Lent is a beautiful season of the Church where we unite ourselves to Christ’s suffering and take an honest look at what we want to purge from or add to our lives. For me growing up, Lent was the season where I walked around with a smudge on my head for a day, couldn’t eat the cafeteria hamburgers on Fridays, and didn’t eat candy or drink soda until Easter. As I grew older, Lent was a season that kept me connected to my faith. It was an intentional time where I was called to do something more to act on my faith.

Lent is a time for us to be mindful about our lives. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we look at what has become an idol for us. What is stealing our joy? What is taking away time that could be spent on more life-giving activities? What habits or beliefs do we want to let go of? What is holding us back from living fully alive?

Letting go of these idols opens up space in our lives for something new. What will we grow in this new space? What is God calling me to add to my life that will bring me joy? What will help me learn more about myself? What will make the ordinary moments of my day extraordinary? What will stretch me in new ways and help me become more of who I am made to be?

What is your why this Lent? What we choose to do or give up for Lent is really not as important as our hopes and intentions behind it. There’s an important difference between giving up chocolate because I know it’s bad for me or giving up chocolate because I want to surrender my desires to God and honor my body with better choices. There’s an important difference between praying an extra five minutes because I think it’s what I’m supposed to do or praying an extra five minutes because I want to grow my desire to be in relationship with God.

Start by asking God what He wants for you this Lent, then identify the places in your life that need transformation, and let yourself dream about what will make you more fully alive.

Here’s some ideas to get you started:

For those feeling anxious

-Practice deep breathing for five minutes every day. Add in a simple prayer with each inhale and exhale.

-Spend three minutes every day writing down your thoughts, worries, and fears, and pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

-Fast from caffeine or sugary foods.

-Share your feelings with someone you trust.

For those feeling depressed

-Try a new physical activity every week.

-Reflect on your feelings at the end of every day.

-Reach out to a different friend every week and ask how you can pray for them.

-Go to Adoration and let God sit with you in your sadness.

For those struggling with perfectionism

-Try a new creative activity every week.

-Have a daily dance party when you cook dinner.

-Make a gratitude list every night about what didn’t go according to plan that day and why you’re grateful for that.

-Schedule time for yourself that is spent doing something you enjoy that is not task oriented.

Lent is an opportunity for us to examine our lives and become better. It’s a chance to go from being a bystander in our own story to being the main character in a joyful adventure. May you become more fully alive and more authentically yourself this Lent.

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