Takeaways From Lent

Time is a funny thing. In a way, I feel Lent flew by; yet Ash Wednesday also feels like a long time ago. Today I wanted to share some of the things I learned over the weeks when I was offline.

Set Guidelines When Fasting: If you plan to do a fast of any kind, it’s important to map out the rules you want to adhere to. If you step into a fast too vaguely (something like “try to spend less time on social media”) it will never work. Before Lent started I made a list of things I wanted to remove from my routine, as well as things I wanted to add to my day. My initial step was sound. However, I didn’t refer to the list throughout Lent. This means I fell short with some of my goals. In hindsight, I should have looked at the list each day in order to keep myself on track. (Note: I admit I tend to try to take on too much at once. Even when fasting. I had too many items to focus on. I did do well with the main item, though. And that was to stay offline – social media and blogging.)

Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself: Regarding the items for which I didn’t reach perfection, I didn’t beat myself up about them. I might regret that I didn’t do better, but I don’t necessarily feel guilty. For example, one of the things on my list was to not complain. Did I master that? No. In this case, this is a bad habit. It is not something we can easily turn off or on, like a light switch. Therefore, this is something I aim to keep working on.

Seek the Lord: One main point of fasting is to seek the Lord. So day by day my actions should reflect that. At the end of a fast we can look back and ask ourselves, “Did I spend more time with Jesus?”

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. – Psalm 63:1

Pray: Another main point of fasting is prayer. Oftentimes when we are fasting for a particular cause (for example, perhaps we want to see healing for a loved one), it is key to add more prayer time in your day. With traditional fasting (giving up certain foods or meals) you would pray during the hour when you would’ve normally been preparing dinner and eating it (for example). My fast didn’t include food this time. However, I did start off Lent with a prayer list. I used that list throughout the weeks to keep my prayers focused.

Keep a Prayer Journal or List: With that being said, I recommend keeping a prayer journal or prayer list at all times. One day during Lent when I was going over the prayer list, I was amazed at how powerful prayer is. I could see areas where God had come through. He heard and He answered. When we can see items on our prayer list get checked off, it leaves us in awe of our miraculous God, and it makes us want to keep leaning on Him.

Protect Your Time: After about a week into Lent, I was reflecting on how much more productive I was. I had more mental clarity and I accomplished more. Then I put two and two together and realized it was because my time and energy was protected. I believe we all should set boundaries on how much time and energy we spend on different things in our lives. We each might have different needs in this area, so I will talk generally about what this means for me. You may want to pray about it to see how God wants you to protect your own time. Personally, now that I am on the other side of Lent, I hope to keep particular guidelines in place pertaining to checking my email, social media, blogging, etc. Especially on weekdays. Prior to Lent I would look at my phone first thing in the morning, and that affected my day. Now that Lent is behind us, I have been trying to put some of those things aside until my lunch break. Mainly for me this is email and blogging. (I am not big on social media in general. However, one thing I did miss during Lent was posting pictures of the sunset on Instagram, which was something I had done a lot of in the weeks prior to Lent. It was uplifting to capture God’s beauty and share it with others.)

Mental Health: This point is tied to the one above. Not only did I have more clarity and productivity, I also felt more at peace. When I have a lot on my plate, that equates to pressure. And pressure is what gets me frustrated and upset. I want to be able to handle everything that comes my way. But the reality is that I cannot do it on my own. So by protecting my time and energy, this leaves space in my soul for the Lord to come in and help me. He is my strength and I need to remember to lean on Him.

Ruthlessly Eliminate Hurry: You might have heard of a popular book called The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry written by pastor John Mark Comer. However, if you didn’t actually read the book, then you might not know the phrase wasn’t originally his. And it wasn’t even said to him firsthand. Yet it was powerful enough to inspire him and countless others. The story goes that John Ortberg, another pastor and author, called Dallas Willard, a Christian philosopher, and asked him what he needed to do stay spiritually healthy. The answer was, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life … Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” I read this book a few years ago and I need to read it again. But anyway, I have a point here! Again this is tied to the two items above. As I mentioned above, I found that overall I was more at peace during Lent. Intentionally slowing down played a part in that. A lot went on in my life over the weeks while I was gone. Much of it was stressful. Yet one day when I was standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes, I was amazed that this chore was actually a bit soothing. Prior to Lent, when my life was hurry and hurry some more, I would not have found washing dishes to be a tranquil task! Obviously I wasn’t one hundred percent at peace. If I were then I would have kicked complaining to the curb! 😜 Nonetheless, I did have more peace and when you discover that feeling, it makes you want even more of it!

“Gratitude and murmuring never abide in the same heart at the same time.” – E. M. Bounds

Hold Everything Loosely: One thing I am trying to remember is to hold everything loosely in my hands. We all make plans, and they range in size. For example, we might plan to eat yogurt for breakfast or we might plan to acquire a college degree. Our plans don’t always work out the way we expect. I tend to get frustrated when my plans get overturned. So I am trying to remember to hold everything loosely in my hands, take it all in stride, and embrace whatever comes my way. This is easier said than done!

Now let’s talk about the elephant in the room – why am I posting today when prior to Lent I was posting on Thursdays? I apologize if this disrupted anyone’s routine. But I felt moving my posts closer to the weekend would help me stick with some of the new guidelines I am putting in place for myself.

I could write a bit more, but this post is already a bit lengthy. So I will let you get back to your day. Thank you for stopping by and reading. I am honored that you took time out of your day to be here. If you had any takeaways from Lent or Easter, please share in the comments.

Photo by Bridget A. Thomas! 😁 This photo I posted on Instagram the night before Ash Wednesday, aka Mardi Gras. It looks a little grainy, but in person the red sun was incredible.

© Bridget A. Thomas 2023

17 Comments on “Takeaways From Lent

  1. There’s a lot here to contemplate and consider, Bridget. It sounds like your time of focus during Lent proved fruitful even if you didn’t achieve everything you sought out to do initially . You leaned on the Lord, which I think is the key reminder I glean from observing Lent. I’m glad you’re back to writing and I look forward to reading your posts on Fridays. It’s always hard to know when to post and how often.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for understanding my posting day / frequency dilemma! And maybe I make it harder than it has to be. Many bloggers just post when they are inspired! I love that idea too… and yes your point is perfect in that leaning on the Lord is always the goal. It’s something I need to be better about, overall. I still find myself doing things in my own strength and it makes me weary. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, Rainer!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Bridget, it sounds like you had a spiritually beneficial time of setting social media and blogging aside for Lent and focusing more on God and prayer. I have found too that being specific about the time of fasting is important otherwise I tend to stretch the rules as I go on in the fast. And the mental clarity and being more productive, I so agree with those points. Staying off your phone till lunch break. I have done that and found it very helpful. I must admit that I have not been very consistent, but it has helped me and reading this has made me think about doing it again.
    It is wonderful to have your post pop up again after the break and I understand shifting the day to post. I too post on a Friday morning, although it might be Thursday evening/night for you.
    Take care my friend.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you for all that you said. It makes me feel better to know that we are on the same page in many ways. I know it is difficult to be consistent. Our phones are handy and so easy to grab for whatever reason. But then we get lost and spiral into online land. At least we know, and when we have an off day, we can commit to better habits.
      And thank you for understanding about the posting day change. I hope this change helps me stick to my new routines.
      Have a great weekend, Manu! 🤗

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks Bridget for sharing these nuggets from your time away. All of them are valuable but I especially love the ones about protecting your time and your mental health. When we slow down, it’s interesting how we can find joy in the everyday things of life as you also mentioned. I don’t have IG, but if I did, I’d be following you because I love pictures of nature and the red sun is beautiful. 😍

    I think it’s great you are being intentional about applying these principles to your life. And thanks again for sharing them with us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Dawn! I’m so glad you got some insight out of this post. I agree with what you said about finding joy. So true. Even during stressful times, we can have joy and peace, because we the Prince of Peace is beside us. And It is so amazing to me how the Lord will speak to us and draw near to us, if only we take the time to focus on Him. What a loving God we have! I love pictures of nature too! God’s artwork is unrivaled! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I hope you have a blessed weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I prayed for you, as God led, during your Lenten fast, Bridget. Inspired by your commitment, I did without television or streaming media from Ash Wednesday until after Easter. And this was with the newest season of The Mandalorian” on Disney+!
    When I would have been glued to a screen I used that time to pray and study scripture. The result is a ring full of small note cards with key scriptures and a much more focused prayer life. I also memorized/rememorized some of my favorite Bible verses.

    Liked by 1 person

    • David, thanks so much for sharing your Lenten journey with us. I love that you fasted from television and streaming media. I think the enemy uses so many different things to distract us these days. Giving up a show that you love when it is in a new season was probably tough. But it sounds like your time was well spent. Thank you so much for your prayers too! God heard! 🙌

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post, Bridget! Thank you for sharing what you learned and how you went about your time of fasting. I love that you shared this: “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”
    So important in today’s fast paced world!
    Looking forward to your future posts! Beautiful sun photo!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, my friend! I agree. We do need to tame the hurry. The fast pace of this world has a way of pulling us in. Then it distracts us and takes our focus off of the most important things. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts! 💕


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