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Lent and The Art of Giving Things Up

Photo Credit: Ahna Ziegler

The significance of Lent in my life, and why you should try it

Joy Fan, The Mike Staff Writer

Lent is a Christian tradition that is observed by some, but not all denominations. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends 40 days later, around Easter Sunday. 

Traditionally, Christians observed prayer, fasting, and almsgiving during Lent. Nowadays, different denominations will participate in Lent differently. People often choose to give up certain luxuries, fast, or read Lenten devotionals.

The current practices during the period of Lent will vary greatly, but the Biblical history of Lent is greatly significant to the practice. 

The significance of Lent goes back to its Biblical context. After Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist, he fasted for 40 days in the desert, all the while being tempted by Satan. Despite all these temptations, Jesus resisted. This is so difficult to imagine, yet it is an important reminder to the significance of Lent — it is a commemoration of Christ. 

This year is the first year I’m partaking in Lent. I’m giving up something little compared to what some of my peers are doing — no video games (I’m looking at you, League of Legends). It’s not fasting, not giving up alcohol, or social media, but it is something. 

I’ve noticed that I play video games for about 2 to 4 hours each day (I know, I’m also shocked). So now, that’s around an extra 14–28 hours a week. Wild. But more than that, it gives me the time and space to reflect on my life. For me, I now can appreciate what God has done for me and how He has worked in my life.

Lent has been going well so far. It’s only been a few weeks, but I know it’ll get hard a few more weeks in. But that’s okay. An important aspect of Lent is getting past those difficulties. Hopefully, by the time I’m done, I won’t even want to play video games every day anymore.

Even if you’re not religious, I think the practices of Lent, especially those of giving and serving others, and denying oneself of luxuries, is a good practice for anyone. For myself and many other Christians, giving up some of our attachments to things of this world can help us strengthen our faith. But even for non-religious people, giving up a luxury that we feel like we can’t live without — from Netflix to coffee, or bubble tea to buying shoes — is a good practice of re-evaluating what we are living for, and what genuinely adds value to our lives.

Perhaps by the time April 10th rolls around, I’ll turn on my computer and boot up to play a game right away because I love games (no matter how bad I may be at them), and I feel that they genuinely add value to my life. Perhaps I’ll pick up a book instead or pull out my sketchbook. I can’t be sure what’ll happen yet. But once Lent is over, I will at least realize what I really need in my life (or want very desperately) and also know that I am able to put things down and let them go when needed.

This period has given me a lot of time to reflect. Each and every time I look at my desktop and see a bunch of game icons staring back at me, I wonder how long its been since I’ve double-clicked any of them. I never could have imagined going even three days without playing a quick game.

But now that I’ve done it, it’s normal.

Life is complicated. A lot is happening all around us, and our lives are over-saturated with things to keep us busy. But taking control of what can keep you busy and what you are kept busy with can be an empowering experience.

Sometimes you get much more by giving something up.