How to effectively challenge yourself & feel fulfilled during Lent
Lent has begun!
This is the six-week period leading up to Easter and is one of most important times of year for many Christians around the world. It is a time of solemn observance and preparation for the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s traditionally seen as a time for fasting or giving something up.
For many, it’s challenging and seen as a burden on our journey with God. Over the years, I too have struggled during Lent. I’ve always questioned giving things up and have always fallen short. However, I have learned some ways to effectively challenge myself and feel more fulfilled during the season of Lent:
Overcome the obstacles that keep you from attending mass.
If you’re anything like me, you probably still feel exhausted from all those masses your parents took you to as a child and the ones you had during your Catholic school days.
It’s okay! I totally get why young adults don’t go to mass every Sunday. It can be tough to get up Sunday morning after being out late Saturday night. Catholic mass is boring and you don’t always get something out of the homily. You know there are judgemental, hypocritical people around you.
For me, it’s the ones I believe are judging me for being gay.
What about the thought that you can love God but not love organized religion?
So, why should we go to mass every Sunday despite all these reasonable excuses?
Because God asked us to.
We know this because Jesus told Peter to “build a church upon this rock”. He WANTS us to not only believe in Him and love Him, but he asks us to attend Church. We don’t go for entertainment, to feel inspired, to get along with everyone there — We go to give thanks to God. It isn’t about us; it’s about HIM.
Last night I told myself that I wouldn’t let other people distract me from attending mass during this season of Lent.
Surprisingly, this obstacle of mine was addressed in the Gospel reading today:
“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”
God is listening and He is responding to you. Just make sure you are willing to hear Him.
Wave bye to what holds you back.
All too often we decide to give up things during Lent that are very surface level and perhaps not at all that challenging. Take time to reflect on what holds you back mentally, physically and spiritually.
This year I am giving up a few things that truly hold me back. Some are typical choices for Lent and some are deeper challenges:
- Sweets Bye, Girl Scout Cookies. I’ll never forget you.
- Eating out We like to experiment in the kitchen with our new Instant Pot, but we sometimes we fail and end up in a drive-through. No more of this! We’re only grocery shopping and eating healthy foods at home.
- Biting my nails I know. I know. It’s a horrible habit. I typically do it when I’m stressed or concerned about something. Hope to end this during Lent on my own … though my parents suggested to dip my fingers in jalapeño juice! Hahaha
- Negative Attitudes & Mindsets Ledesma men can sometimes be stubborn, so this will be a tough one. I do know and believe that changing my attitude and mindset will be beneficial.
- Negative People This one is really hard. But I’ve noticed that the people around you can have a positive AND negative impact on you. It’s time to focus on surrounding yourself with positive people who add value to your life rather than bring you down.
I carefully curated this list. For those that don’t know, I struggled mentally and physically most of 2017–2018. I had lost myself and was blinded by others from seeing my worth and potential in life. It was not until this past summer that I took back my life and chose a path that has led me to bigger and better things.
Thankfully, I feel like me again and have rediscovered myself.
Since summer, I’ve lost nearly 40lbs, gained more energy, positivity, friendships, business and more. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.
Take time to create your list and to choose to give up what is holding you back.
Seriously, treat yourself to what will make you happier and feel more fulfilled during Lent.
I’m going to focus on myself in a few ways:
- Taking time to pray & meditate daily.
- Capturing photos for fun every week.
- Walking outside more during Lent.
This Lent, let us all cut out what holds us back and focus more on what can help us improve mentally, physically and spiritually.
Prepare your spiritual life like you do other aspects of your life. With time, passion and care.
Lent is the perfect time to start. By Easter Sunday, you’ll feel better in many ways and form a stronger bond with God along the way.
“From dust you came, and to dust you shall return.”
Wishing y’all a wonderful season of Lent!