Art by Tori Roberts
By Erin O’Farrell
Lent is a liturgical season immensely important to the Christian faith, as it focuses on a renewal of the spirit and faith in Christ. This 40-day period preceding Easter calls to all to try to live a life more like that of Jesus through taking this time to focus on faith and preparation for Salvation.
The 40 days gains its significance from two Biblical accounts, one in which Moses spent 40 days on the mountain with the Lord, and another in which Jesus spent 40 days in the desert after his Baptism.
Today, the 40 days are important because they bring about a period of change and renewal. All Christians that observe Lent take this opportunity to better themselves both in their faith and as individuals.
Many people choose to give something up for the 40 days, symbolic of the fasting of both Jesus and Moses during their 40 days. This ranges from giving up soda to avoiding social media- whatever that person feels is best for them.
When I was younger, I mostly saw Lent as a challenge. I still do- I want to stick to my promise and better myself moving forward- but back then, I did not understand its significance, and in the long run, I did not undergo much of a change. I went right back to those habits after the 40 days were up.
Having grown older, I now understand the significance of Lent and try to utilize it as an opportunity to grow closer to my faith, which is the reason most people do abide to it. I want to better myself as a person. This is the true goal of Lent. This time provides an opportunity to change ourselves for the better. This can entail more than giving things up, however.
Another practice seen during Lent is picking up a new, healthy habit whether it be reading the Bible, helping parents around the house, or volunteering. This is equally important as it also helps people grow in their faith and as individuals.
These 40 days can help people on the road to developing better habits. Like I said early on, I had trouble sticking to the commitments I made during Lent, but as I became more dedicated to the idea and saw Lent as something more than a challenge, it became easier to turn the practices into habits that I still follow today.
This time allows people to take an opportunity to enrich their lives. If there is something that you have always wanted to do, but you’ve never had time to do it, take the opportunity Lent has to offer to make it a priority, whether that be going to the gym, getting ahead on homework, or spending more time with people you care about. Simply sticking to this goal during Lent can better your life and help you continue doing it even after the 40 days are up.
This can apply to everyone. Lent has become a time for people to try to better their lives for any reason, and the 40-day period can set them up for a long-term commitment. A study by Phillippa Lally published in the European Journal of Social Psychology found that the average time period needed to develop a new habit is just over 60 days. Spending the 40 days of Lent (or 46, if you include Sundays) working on this habit, therefore, acts as a major boost to committing to the new habit, no matter what it may be. This can help strengthen you individually and spiritually for the long run, and having the support of so many people during the beginning of your journey throughout the Lenten season can make it so much easier to stick to your plan.
Whether you have a life-changing goal or are taking small steps to better your life, 40 days is an accomplishment. Maybe doing something as simple as helping more with chores around the house does not seem like a spiritual commitment, but by becoming a better person, you are becoming a stronger Christian. Every single kind act or step in the positive direction helps you and others grow to appreciate the world and people around you. It helps you recognize and value your faith. Those that see your commitment and your kindness can feel inspired by it.
Therefore, Lent is not simply a time to prove to others that you can do something. It is a time to grow in your faith and devotion to God. This can be done during any time of the year, but Lent lends itself as the perfect time period because of the meaning behind the season and because others will be striding alongside you.
Lent began on Valentine’s Day this year, so it seems fitting that we should take this opportunity to show our love for those important to us. During this time of change and renewal, it is important to remember that we are not simply trying to better our own lives, but also the lives of everyone around us through our actions.