Thoughts On Doing Lent Backwards

This year, I am doing Lent backwards.

Lent, the Christian period preceding Easter that is associated with fasting, abstinence and penitence in commemoration of Christ’s fasting in the wilderness, begins Wednesday, on Ash Wednesday.

This will be my second year participating in Lent. Last year I decided give up alcohol for the duration of Lent, which is about 6 weeks long. My life was changed during that challenging and gorgeous period. While I don’t drink every night, it was a sacrifice to abstain from wine on the weekends or a beer during social settings. I realized that social drinking had become a constant in my life during my 20’s and not a constant that I was very fond of.

During Lent last year a number of amazing things happened. It was a true period of self-examination. During social gatherings I didn’t have the comfort of a smooth glass of smoky wine to push me, a naturally introverted person, into the outgoing, entertaining and witty woman that most of my friends know me as. I felt a little bare in social settings, having to expose myself and discuss why giving up alcohol was important me and then awkwardly attempt to be gregarious and fun.

Surprisingly, during Lent my life became more vibrant. My weekends were relaxing and productive and my agenda wasn’t focused around ensuring my friends and I all got together for happy hour on Friday nights. The lack of wine in my life made room for other components of me to thrive, therefore I stuck to it. I leaned in toward God and I embraced the changes that came from Lent.

On the last day of Lent my life changed. My inner self was already full of magic from a stronger relationship with God and a clear mind during those 6 weeks but on that last day, two other things happened that changed my life in an amazing and positive way. I got a call from a wonderful company asking me to come in for an interview (which went tremendous and lead to my current job) and I got an email from the editor of Cosmopolitan Magazine asking me to write a story about love. Coincidence? I wouldn’t say so.

Thus, here we are a year later and Lent starts once more in a few days. I thought about saying goodbye to my beloved wine yet again but God is calling me to do something new this year. I know that Lent is about sacrifice but I know already that I can go without wine and I don’t plan to give up something that I find meaningless like social media or candy (although not having dark chocolate every day would be painful).

For these reasons, I decided to do Lent a little backwards this year. The goal is always to become closer to God and I want to consciously do something every day that will bring me closer to Him. Something I have wanted to do since diving into my faith is spend a dedicated amount of time with God every single day. Don’t get me wrong, I thank God for various things all day long and I pray regularly but I have always wanted to spend a few minutes a day reading the bible or a Christian based book. I have wanted to develop a habit and I have started numerous times, always failing.

I know what you’re thinking. This seems extremely easy and how hard is it to set aside 10 minutes a day to read the bible. Well, it isn’t easy. I wake up at 5am to work out, I get ready for work and I spend 10 hours a day driving to work, working and driving home. I get home, show my family attention, do chores, make dinner, do more chores, maybe watch one TV show, head to bed, attempt to read or write but usually I just fall asleep before I even get a page down. (I can never have kids, there is no time!)

Life is like this and I know those reading this article deal with similar hectic and busy lifestyles. And frankly, I am not strong enough to ensure I sit down at my kitchen table for 10 minutes every morning and read the bible (Read: I suck at holding myself accountable to myself). But, the good news is I am not alone, God is with me and He expects more of me.

And that is why, this year, I am doing Lent a little backwards. Plus, in an interesting twist of events, my boyfriend has decided to do this every day alongside me. In some way, I feel that is God telling me I am doing the right thing because my partner has decided to lean in with me. Already, Lent is bringing God not just into my soul more, but into my relationship, a place He should be at the center of but oftentimes is not.

If you’re thinking about participating in Lent this year, I highly recommend it, no matter your denomination or upbringing. If you love God and crave a closer relationship with Him, embrace Lent. Ponder on the ways in which you can change some small and challenging component of your life to better enhance your relationship with God. I promise you won’t regret it.

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A List Of Thank-you’s To My Best Friend On Her 28th Birthday

Thank you for finding something to laugh about with me every time I see you. We laugh at you, we laugh at me, we laugh at life, we laugh at nothing and we laugh at everything. We always laugh together and I love that about us.

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Thank you for ten years of friendship and never once walking away from me. Not during those young adult years when everything had such feeling. Not during the times I was being impossible, self-centered, bossy or dramatic. Not during the bad relationship choices or moving to Richmond for college. NeverShana 10

Thank you for letting me be the planner in this relationship. Oh GOD, could you imagine if I was trying to plan our events and you were too? We would both be knee deep in planners, details and anxiety. Thanks for always letting me plan our life, meeting times, adventures and just saying “yes.”

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Thank you for welcoming me into your beautiful, blended family. I know your family never minds if your “boyfriend” comes to dinner, bowling or a brewery. I know I could count on them if I needed a couch to sleep on or a warm meal to eat. Thank you for sharing them with me all these years.

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Thank you for sharing your love of music with me and being the DJ of my life. Your love of music and my love of words have made for the very best memories I have with you. From melodies that bring back moments, to lyrics that bring instant tears and laughter. I know if I am with you and there is a way to play music, it will be played and it will be the songs from the soundtrack of our lives together. “We’ll laugh away the sunburn as we laughed away the day, what we lost means nothing for the memories will stay.”

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Thank you for living with me. We were always terrified and excited to live together. Worried we might hate each other, excited to always be together. Yet, it never really worked out until this past year at an age where we both never expected to be husband-less, childless and living together! But, what an awesome time it has been. I love having you around; I love our breakfasts, dinners, workouts, wine time and everything in between.

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Thank you for being just as excited as I am that we have the same zodiac sign. The zodiac powers have split Aquarius’s into two categories- the Rachel’s and the Shana’s of the world. Somehow we found each other and it is our innate differences and similarities that make our friendship so cosmic. (See what I did there? #SoCosmic)

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Thank you for spoiling that one season of One Tree Hill by telling me before I watched the season that Nathan was paralyzed. NOT. How could you do that? I will never forgive you.

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Thank you for letting me fall in love (during which I did not give our friendship attention it has always deserved). When I met Tim I basically crawled into his apartment and died. For years before him, I never understood how women could get sucked into this tornado of love and connection with a guy and mute the rest of their lives and then it happened to me. You could have walked away from me during that time and hated me for falling off the face of the earth when you needed me to be there for you, but you didn’t. Thank you so much for forgiving me for that period in my life.

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Thank you for refusing to go to the movies with me on a sunny day. You never let me be a hermit when I am with you unless it is dark outside or the booze got the best of us the night before. You really live in a world that so many other people just exist in. You breathe the fresh air, you go to the beach, you love fires and activities and you hate being inside on a gorgeous day. I love that about you.

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Thank you for crying in front of me and letting me comfort you. It is the greatest gift of friendship to be there for someone on all the different days of their lives: the happy, sad, boring, angry and in between. You never tell me to leave you alone or not to call when shit has hit the fan. You let me be your friend through it all and I am so glad to be by your side, always.

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Thank you for being the most down girl I have ever met. You are literally down for anything and everything. I could ask you to go to a mitten knitting contest and your ass would be down. You are so open-minded and you get excited about everything. Some of the best memories I have with you are from the most random things that you’ve been down to come with me to.

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Thank you for just last weekend ruining the entire 3rd season of Game of Thrones for me by informing me of…well, you know. NOT (again!). Why do you keep doing this!? You are like a walking spoiler alert.

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Thank you for always celebrating me. In the ten years I have known you; you have always gotten excited about my successes with me. You’ve never put me down or made me feel as though something I have accomplished is insignificant. You’ve never made me feel bad about being excited or happy for moments in my life. You’ve always believed in me and you’ve always gotten excited about my life with me, thank you.

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Thank you for loving my parents. You never say “no” to a Francis family outing or to Rita’s need to buy you gifts whenever she wants, we love that about you. Thanks for staying awake with me and my dad on that one trip from the Grand Canyon to Vegas while my mother drugged herself and slept in the trunk the entire 6 hours. That moment would have been MUCH less hysterical if you weren’t part of it. #shaqtus

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Thank you for never letting any argument we have last more than a few minutes. Can you even believe that we used to go days without speaking? Nothing is ever worth it to us now and I love that. We work it out within minutes and move on. You never hold a grudge or bring up stuff from the past (because you can’t remember anything LOL) and for that reason we have never lost days or weeks over disagreements.

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Thank you for seeing the changes I try to make as a person and reminding me of them when I don’t love myself. No explanation necessary.

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Thank you for finding God with me. This has been the most amazing part of us. I have loved growing my faith with you, talking about our questions, singing out “Oh, my soul” together and everything in between.

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Thank you for letting me be the most overbearing friend in the universe. I am your real soulmate in this world, thanks for never asking me to back off. You know I am not capable of anything less than full takeover. You won’t go a day without talking to me; you won’t go a week without seeing me. This is who I am, thanks for letting me be this type of friend.

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Thank you for loving olives, pizza, cheese, wings, potatoes and fries. Could you imagine if you were vegan? I would kill you.

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Thank you for reading to this point. You know how I like to write…I tried to only write one sentence for each thank-you but that didn’t work out, clearly.

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Thanks for always sending me stuff you know I need to hear. Quotes, song lyrics, faraway places and jokes. They make my day, always.

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Thanks for being my best friend. My life is colorful because you’re in it. Love you! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!

(p.s.- Thanks for always making sure I am wearing sunscreen)

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