Lent provides benefit for all

As I write this, there are 37 days until Easter. It’s easy to keep track of the days prior to Easter when you are participating in Lent; especially when you give something up for those 40 days.

Someone asked me last week what Lent was. Growing up around Christians who practiced it never led me to question it. But it’s a fair question, and made me think.

I realized Lent doesn’t necessarily have to be something only for Christians. It doesn’t have to be religious at all.

If Christianity isn’t your forte, there’s nothing wrong with participating in a little pre-spring cleanse. We all have habits we’d like to kick, stuff we’ve been meaning to try or even rekindling resolutions we had abandoned.

The 40 days before Easter are a time to fix that. Even if you don’t give something up for the glory of God, you can still take time to better yourself or try something new.

When Jesus died on the cross for us and rose again, it fulfilled a covenant with God that would pay for the sins of mankind. Christians traditionally give up things in the season of Lent to sacrifice something or die a little themselves as a symbol of fasting.

Prayer, fasting and giving alms are ways we prepare for Easter. We give up something to help us turn away from whatever is distracting us from God and positively turn our lives towards Christ.

As for someone who is non-religious, Lent can also be a time of self-giving. With spring comes shorts, tank tops and swimsuits. Forty days is plenty of time to hit the gym or eat more salads than you have been to lose a layer of winter flab. Maybe you need to quit smoking, cut back on alcohol or swear less often.

Lent is a great time to start fresh. Regardless of whether you participate in the religious meaning behind it, you can still practice renewal and self-preparation. Lent comes at the perfect time if you are slacking on your New Year’s resolution as well.

This year for Lent, I gave up Facebook, Twitter, sweets and swearing. I’m at day three and still strong, but I will admit the “no swearing” aspect is more difficult than I thought. It turns out I get a lot more homework and studying done without Facebook and Twitter to distract me, though.

Giving up things is hard, especially when we have so many luxuries in our lives. However, there is something truly satisfying about having the self-control to say no to things and in turn becoming stronger.

It doesn’t matter if you believe in heaven or if you believe all that becomes of us after we die is a box of dirt. Lent can still be a 40 day journey to better ourselves at the turn of a new season. Having something to work toward is always a great motivation, and there’s no better time to start than now.

Mary Ochs is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].