I grew up in a religion where whenever Lent was coming up, the question, “What are you giving up for Lent?” was asked. The reasoning behind giving something up for lent is to reflect on the time that Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights. The Bible talks about this in Matthew 4. I understood that, we were trying to be more Christ-like by giving something up. But what is always the first thing given up? Food, drink, some habit, something physical, recently a lot of people give up social media. That is all great, every time you go to reach for that chocolate, or soda, or catch yourself saying a swear word, or going to grab your phone, you think of Jesus, you pray, you reflect. That is awesome! But what happens at the end of the 40 days…you go back to whatever it is you gave up. There is no real change in your heart. I remember one year I gave up soda for Lent, and it was torture for my teenage self. Then on Easter I was so excited to have a Dr. Pepper with lunch! You know what happened, I was on the couch with a headache the rest of the day. I still drank soda after that, but not as much. It actually did create a change, and started my mind going about how Lent should actually change us. But it didn’t change me how this time during the Liturgical Year really should…
A few years later, our priest was giving a homily about Lent and he said something that forever changed my perspective; Lent isn’t just about giving something up, Lent is about growing closer to God. And he asked, is what you are doing truly bringing you closer to God? After that, I looked at what I was “giving up” in a different light. I no longer give up something such as food or social media, I give up ways that are pushing me away from Christ, I give up time that I would be doing something else to instead spend time with God. I go on a 40 day sprint to grow my faith. We should always be working on growing our faith, but think of Lent as like one of those health programs, you spend however many days doing it “hardcore” to work your way into it being a part of your lifestyle. That is what Lent is for your faith. And I didn’t have to give up chocolate, because giving up chocolate is never okay.
Here are 7 things you can do in your sprint to a stronger faith this Lent to be a better wife, mother, and Christian.
I highly suggest picking a few of these, though.
1. Start a Marriage Devotional
This is one thing I plan on doing this Lent, and hopefully getting DJ on board as well. Since Lent starts on Valentine’s day this year, I got us the “Thirty One Prayers for my Marriage” bundle and the “Husband and Wife After God Devotional” bundle from Unveiled Wife. He doesn’t know it yet, but that’s my present to him, as well as his present to me. All I want for Valentine’s Day is to do this devotional at night and put away our phones!
Spending at least these 40 days devoting your marriage to God and focusing on not only God but each other will most definitely be the starting point for your marriage to continue to grow after the Easter season has come and gone. You would be surprised how immensely your marriage and your faith go hand in hand when one or the other grows stronger.
There are lots of devotionals you can do together, or on your own. You can check out my Marriage Pinterest Board for some ideas or visit the Unveiled Wife.
2. Start a Motherhood Devotional
This is one I plan to do eventually, but I am reading a few too many books at the moment. The books on my to read list are “Pressing Pause” by Karen Ehman & Ruth Schewnk, as well as “31 Prayers for My Daughter” by Jennifer & Aaron Smith on the Unveiled Wife (they also have a “31 Prayers for my Son“). By giving up time that I would spend doing who knows what, I can instead work on becoming a better mother that focuses on raising my daughters in Christ rather than focusing on the repetitive motions of each day as a stay at home mom. I can’t wait to get started on these because it will breathe a little bit more life into this job I already love.
3. Start a Devotional for YOU
To be a better anything, you need to be a better YOU! As wives and mothers, we constantly put ourselves on the back burner. I don’t have the time or the money to do things such as get massages or pedicures, which are physical things and absolutely fantastic to do for yourself when you can. I needed to find something that was for me, that helped me spiritually, not just physically. Remember my post about when God sent me to Target, well he brought me to a devotional called “100 Days to Brave” by Annie F. Downs, as well as a book called “She’s Still There” by Chrystal Evans Hurst. I highly suggest these books as well as the book “Uninvited” by Lisa TerKeurst, which I just finished not too long ago.
These books and devotionals have given me so much perspective on my life and have truly given me the courage to work towards becoming the best Christian I can be, not just the best me I can be. I’ll admit, it can be really hard to find time to actually sit down and read these, but I have been working to devoting at least 15 minutes a day to reading and meditating. What’s worked for me is reading my daily devotional (it’s two small pages, I promise you can do it) and then reading one chapter a day. Even if that means letting SJ watch cartoons for 15 minutes while I sit down and read a chapter.
4. Work on Focusing Growing Your Faith With Your Children
This is a great way to introduce your kids to the idea of using Lent as a way to focus on growing with God. But, if you want to stick with the idea of giving something up, you could use giving up video games or play time to pray with you or just talk about faith. SJ is too young to do this, but I am always looking for ways to do things with the girls to teach them about God when they are older. I found a book called “Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions for Kids” by Sarah Young. It starts on January 1st, so you could skip ahead and start on the day Lent starts (this year it is February 14th), and then hopefully by doing it through Lent it will become routine and you will be able to go through the whole book. After all, this is all about focusing on a change after Lent ends.
5. Plan More Time to Do Activities with Your Kids
This one isn’t directly faith based, but it will give you the reboot in motherhood that you need and the inspiration to do more in your faith journey. This doesn’t have to be every day – set a goal for 3 times a week doing a type of specific activity with your child. This works great for smaller children that can’t quite understand doing prayer time with them like in the last idea. For SJ and I, this has been spending 20 minutes after nap time doing arts and crafts, reading, or just actually playing. I know, you’re thinking: “Shouldn’t you be doing that already? You’re a stay at home mom.” Okay, let me laugh a little bit, because along with the stay at home mom stigma of doing activities all day with my kids, I am also expected to have a spotless house, no laundry, and dinner on the table when my husband gets home.
Spoiler; none of that happens when you are a stay at home mom. It’s trying to balance everything and working to get something, ANYTHING, done to feel productive. Which means my brain is constantly thinking of what needs to be getting done. By focusing on taking 20-30 minutes a day on just an activity with SJ, I have to put all of that on hold, and it is hard sometimes. Especially if I catch a glimpse of the dirty dishes, pile of random things on the table that needs organized, or the mounding piles of laundry. Instead, I focus on her. I play with her. I forget about everything else and I just be her mom.
So if you want to put it in terms of giving something up, give up some stress, give up time doing chores, give up focusing on your house. It will definitely help you be a better mom and feel better about yourself. I suggest doing this one with another idea as well.
6. Make an Effort to Spend Time Talking with Your Spouse about Faith
If doing an entire devotional with your spouse seems too much right now, talk to them about just spending one or two nights a week taking time to actually sit and talk about God and your faith. This one can be a little awkward if this isn’t something you already do, so a few points to start with could just be:
- Talking about what each of your faith lives was like growing up.
- How each of you bring God into your personal lives (i.e. daily prayers, saying the “rope prayers,” or how God isn’t as present as you would like).
- Ideas each of you have to have God more present in your marriage and/or daily lives.
- Work on praying together, even if it is just saying an Our Father every night before bed out loud together
- Read a bible verse or passage and talk about what it means to you (hint: check out my Marriage Pinterest Board for ideas).
- Text them a bible verse everyday for the duration of Lent. My favorite way is with the YouVersion Bible App on my iPhone. I can access verses straight from my keyboard by choosing a topic and then finding a verse, or even verses that are in an image like something you would see on Pinterest.
This is one idea that I highly suggest doing with something else to be able to fully immerse yourself in the whole 40 days of Lent. The next one especially.
7. Spend Time with God’s Word Everyday or as Often as Possible
Last year for Lent I devoted at least 3-4 days a week to have a set time that I spent in my bible. Usually it was during SJ’s morning nap or I would wake up early. I started by just trying to read the Bible from the beginning, but that didn’t work for me. So I just started asking God to lead me where he needed me to be and opening up His word to a random place and reading. I used The Message Canvas Bible, because it was a journaling bible as well and had coloring pages in it too. I would read until I came to a spot to color, then reflect on what I had just read while I colored. It was an amazing stress reliever.
I can attest that doing this throughout Lent created a huge change in me and led me to the path God wanted me on. It led me to start this blog. After this, Lent has held a special place in my heart and I hope this change of heart about what Lent is about can be the same for you.
Do you do something different for Lent other than the typical giving something up?