For those of you who don’t know what Ash Wednesday is. It’s the first day of Lent. Lent is known in the Western Christianity communities as a ritual of fasting for 46 days. That is forty days of fasting, if the 6 Sundays (which are not days of fast) are excluded.
Traditionally, it’s a fasting of meat.
As culture has expanded and grown it’s become an acceptable place in Lent to confess the weakness of temptations you’ve been having regarding a certain habit, weakness, or judgement you’ve held on to and can’t seem to get control over.
It’s a time of acknowledgement and spiritual growth, as well as a compromise to the power and control you’ve been lacking to this “thing”
Some people give up fast food for Lent, some give up alcohol, some give up junk food, some give up soda, some make Lent a time for developing a new habit like: instead of feeling bored and sitting and doing nothing, I am going to spend 30 minutes each day walking through the neighborhood and getting fresh air,
or, instead of doing busy work I am going to spend 15 minutes a day on that project I have been putting off.
Which is also a great time to start, if throughout the rest of the year you don’t do things like self evaluations or 30 day challenges.
This year for Lent, I decided to spend money only on the things I absolutely need.
So that hair trim and extra bottle of Green Tea from the store? Nope.
That frosting & baked delicious looking dog treat from the store for my dog? Ney.
That rug online that is 80% off and would be perfect in the living room? No way.
Those Sorels winter boots with the fur and tread on the bottom? Ohhhh no.
So far, if I would have bought the things I would normally carelessly spend money on, thinking that money grows on the tree outside of my building, I would have spent $472, and Lent only started on February 18th.
And because I am only buying things I absolutely need, I have enough food to make healthy meals every morning, every lunch, and everynight. I have paid off $205 so far of debt and will have enough to cover my bills and gas from driving, and suddenly…..
I am noticing how much pickier I am becoming with my spending.
“Is that really worth $80 or can I probably find that somewhere else for a lot cheaper?”
“Spring is almost here…. do I really need a new coat this year or have the ones I’ve been wearing work just fine?”
Granted, the living room is unfurnished. But Danny’s been in pre-seaon traveling since the middle of January and I’ve been working almost everyday since I moved here. So, neither of us have really been home long enough to decide how to decorate or what we need first. Yes, we need a couch. Yes, we will need some lamps, due to the electric in the living room light that doesn’t work. And yes, we will need a bookshelf to get all of our books off the floor. But those will come.
For those of you who have any debts or bad spending habits in general, ask yourself, do you really WANT that item or do you really NEED that item?
Close your eyes and imagine that item in your life right now and imagine your bank account. Can you honestly make that purchase without risking not having enough for another financial obligation? WHY do you want or need this item? HOW is this going to impact your life?
Another thing you can do, is try putting the money you would have normally spent on that “wanted item” into your savings account or a savings envelope. Title it “money spent” and commit to only ADDING money to it. At the end of the month (or Lent in my case), take a look at the envelope or savings account and see how much money you have that otherwise, you would not if you gave in and spent spent spent on things you want want want.
Our mind too easily confuses our wants and needs. And because we are a nation with a focus on unfortunate and unnecessary consumerism and capitalism, we begin to believe that we really do NEED the superficial and materialistic items in our lives in order to stay alive and stay noticed. Or you emotionally shop and it turns you into a shopaholic.
I fall into that last category. And that’s why I am taking the Lent now.
Like alcoholics and AA. I was an awfully scary shopaholic for years. Spending a disgusting amount of money everyday on everything I wanted, just because I had the money and I could. All Cash. When you run on nothing but Cash, it goes fast. I got myself into a shopping rehab. SA I call it – Shopaholics Anonymous. I needed a support system. I needed coping skills. When I got a trigger of any emotion that caused me to spend money, I needed somewhere or someone I could get in touch with immediately. I didn’t walk into a mall for one year. I learned about thrift shops and second hand stores (which turns out, I now love more than paying $300 for a table that looks exactly the same). It was hard. I had to treat it like an addiction to take it seriously, and in many ways it was.
I still shop when I absolutely can and even then, if I allow myself a “shopping spree” it now comes once or twice a year, instead of everyday. If I need furniture, I look at as many different resources as I can before I make a healthy decision on where I purchase it from and why I need it and I know that when I spend the money on it, my bank account will not be hindered. Because I prepare now.
I have traded furniture with friends, clothing swapped with friends and family, and have inherited many cool pieces of furniture given away by strangers and neighbors and friends alike and have been able to give away cool pieces of furniture myself.
Lent is allowing me to regroup and give myself a little slapping reminder to “keep it together woman!”
With this fist, I raise it in the air and regain my personal power!
AND SO CAN YOU!
Lent or no lent.
Christian or Atheist,
YOU TOO, Hold the Power Within to take back the control over your personal weaknesses and desires. The things you want to do or be better at, but for one reason or another, give into doing the complete opposite.
Remember, that everything great comes in moderation and even too much of a good thing is unhealthy.
And for whatever your weakness or habit you want to change, all it takes is acknowledgement, a series of rhetorical questions to how it became created, a support group of accountibilibuddies, and of course, a written down plan of action.
No flower blooms at the same pace. But they do bloom.