Matthew Warner encourages us to give away whatever we save by giving something up for Lent:
Take the money you would have spent on eating out or smoking or whatever it is and…give it away instead. Take the time you would have spent doing those things and instead spend that time in prayer. And rather than thinking about your own struggles the whole time, take a moment in solidarity to think about all those around the world who will never even have the option to “eat out” or to spend too much time on Facebook or to even experience something you may be giving up this Lent.
Try it. We aren’t just sacrificing things this Lent for the sake of removing bad things. We’re sacrificing things so that we can make more room in our lives for God. So yes, remove some things from your life that are less worthy of being there, but make sure you fill that space with something Good. Allow God to fill that space. Prepare to fully receive Him at Easter.
This nicely combines two of the three Lenten requirements: almsgiving and fasting. And if you save yourself some time and use that for prayer you’ve managed all three. Here are a whole heap of Lenten prayers.
Matthew also suggests a good cause to receive what you give, and a Lenten activity to do on Fridays with your family to help them identify with those in need. Here in New Zealand, we might consider adding the cash we save to our Caritas envelopes.
Here’s another thought for helping others while giving up something that you really don’t need. For the last three years, I’ve joined the 40 bags in 40 days crowd. Every Lent, I get rid of at least 40 bags or boxes of stuff that is cluttering our home and our lives. It’s a great discipline, and giving all the still useful bits away to someone that needs them or to a charity that can turn them into cash makes it even better.
Most of us have used Lent to permanently give up a bad habit (or temporarily, like the child who said she’d give up being mean to her brother until after Lent). How about using Lent to take up a good habit? (I’ve promised myself to post on the blog every day except Sunday. Not sure whether that qualifies as a good habit or a bad one!)