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Honesty Hour: Do you observe Lent?



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I’ll be honest, the season of Lent caught me by surprise this year.

I couldn’t fall asleep last night and resorted to the default (and the habit I never recommend): scrolling on Instagram. I noticed someone’s “goodbye to Instagram for the next 40 days” message as I scrolled. They were giving it up for Lent.

I pulled up my calendar in shock, certain it wasn’t coming up so soon. There was no way that Lent was already here… that we are already approaching the 40-day march to Easter Sunday.

But alas, we have reached the first day of Lent.

Though Lent is considered to be a primarily Catholic tradition, I observe it. I think the devotion behind it is beautiful, a worthy thing to add to my life as we approach Spring.

I kept tossing and turning last night, still unable to sleep. I tried to think of the thing I would do this Lenten season:

I could give up fried foods.

I could write more.

I could create something every day.

I could give up TV.

I could hop off social media.

Quickly, I started to feel exhausted by my own efforts (which is the opposite of what Lent should be). Every road was leading to the same place: an anthem of me, me, me.

I don’t want to make the next 40 days all about me. I realize I could so easily do that if I treat this season like a goal I’m meant to sprint towards. I am always eager to turn Lent into a weight loss challenge.

Even this morning, I’ve scrolled through countless articles about Lent and I can’t help but feel like they’re so me-centric. They beg the question, “What will you gain from this season?” Self-improvement isn’t a bad thing but I don’t want Lent to become my second round of New Year’s resolutions. That’s not the purpose of the cross. If anything, it was never about us to begin with.

Lent, at its core, is about strengthening our bond with God. Drawing closer. Lingering at his feet a little longer.

Lent was never meant to be a challenge where we checked off square boxes every day or applauded our efforts to resist a temptation to shop online or eat the donut. It’s about devotion. A way to prepare our hearts and minds for Easter.

So this Lent, coming on the heels of a year where we’ve already lost so much, what if we added something to our lives?

Something simple. Something small.

A simple prayer to the end of our day.

A daily walk around the neighborhood to be in nature and God’s creation.

A meditation to re-center our souls.

An alarm clock to wake us out of slumber instead of our phones.

A plant by the windowsill—something to nurture and lift our spirits.

A thank-you card, written each morning to someone we value in our lives.

A daily text to encourage and lift someone— to let them know you’re talking to God about them.

What would it look like to add instead of subtracting throughout this season? What would shift and change? How would we draw nearer to God through ritual and practice, through the simple obedience of showing up for our lives?

This year, I’m letting myself off the Lent hook I so often create for myself.

I’m still here. I’m still observing. If anything, I’m on a mission to clear out noise and distractions to make room to hear from God more. I am clearing the space to pray. I’m reminding myself, “It’s not about performance or the need to be perfect… that’s the opposite of what this season is about. This season is about fullness. About a promise.

This morning, I created a small sticky note. On it, there are 6 things I could do. I am committing to practicing one thing each day. Just one. Not all 6. I believe these things give glory to God. I believe adding something small into my daily rhythms— be it meditation or a postcard in the mail— will stack up to a bigger devotion. How about you?

I want to hear from you:

Do you observe Lent? What does it look like for you? Are you giving something up or adding something into your daily life this year? Tell us all about it in the comments below!


  1. Debra Fillingim says:

    I don’t know why…but I usually do not observe lent. I am a believer and am so thankful…as my past life experiences would indicate I should not be alive….So I a good way. It sneaks up on me too. I am going to save your idea when it sneaks up on me again so I can choose something quickly. I am going to look for your "can writing replace therapy" piece. Writing saved my life…and I love to tell the tale. I had an after school writing club at school. I did not get paid for it and I provided tons of col stuff. The kids LOVED it and many tell me they are still writing today.

  2. Amy Whitehead says:

    I LOVE Lent!! I add something into my life. I’m grad school I made a 40 day calendar for youth with daily things to do. From random acts of kindness to slowly reading through the Easter story to stopping for 10 mins to pray. Taking part in Ash Wednesday is highly impactful and the only day of the year that people are willing to physically show their faith with ashes on their foreheads. Knowing what Jesus is about to go through, did go through and came back always hits me to the core.

  3. Jill Meyer says:

    I always try to add something positive to my life during Lent. Usually I add extra readings or poetry that is faith based. This year I’ve committed through my church to read the whole Holy Bible in a year. It’s been a good addition for me. I always also try to add an a random act of kindness each day. It can be something really small like smiling at someone. It really helps me feel more connected to my faith. I love your list and doing one task a day. I feel whatever you choose to do, the goal is to feel closer to God during the next 40 days.

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Hi, I'm Hannah

I love writing about all things faith, mental health, discipline + and motherhood. Let's be penpals!


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