What to give up for Lent and how to make it count

Coke Can

Lent is the season in which Catholics traditionally “give something up” for forty days, just like Christ fasted for forty days in the desert. But sometimes Lenten promises are a lot like New Year’s resolutions.

Everyone starts out bound and determined to give up something that they’ve been bound and determined to give up every year. Smoking. Overeating. Eating out too much. Not working out. They eventually start to sputter. They go back to the previous state.

On its surface Lent seems like simply a time of going without one of several things we could all probably go without, and eating fish on Friday (which is a great reason to love the season). What it has made me realize this year is how much I could go without. More importantly, Lent calls my attention to what the poorest among us go without every day.

For example, the Homeless Action Network of Detroit reported in 2013 that 2,804 children were homeless in 2013. Over 2,000 children went without a roof over their heads.

We’ve all been keenly aware of the cold here in the Detroit metro. On some nights wind chills have dipped as low as -30 degrees. I can’t stand ten minutes  in that cold, much less twenty four hours. Sure, there are shelters. But not all can make it to the shelter.

Here’s a suggestion for what you can give up for lent

Crystal and I started off with the standard – we were going to give up Coke. But we realized that giving up a drink for 40 for no real reason other than some sort of personal challenge just wasn’t worth it.

So for Lent, we’re taking the money that we’d normally be spending on soda and we’re giving it to an organization that helps the homeless in downtown Detroit.

You can give anything up for Lent this way. Donate the heaps of cash you pay for cigarettes to fight homelessness in your city. Giving up burgers? Donate your fast food cash to a soup kitchen. Whatever you’re giving up, make sure to give something to somebody who really needs it.

Oh, and you don’t have to be Catholic to do this. When you think about it, people of every religion or none at all could stand to help their fellow humans out.

So, what are you willing to give up to help your city’s poor? And who would you help?

Image Source: A million names but only one truth to face

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