My realistic 2016 Lenten goals

The last two years, I have had high hopes for the Lenten season. In 2014, I gave up Facebook for Lent and planned to read books by two Christian theologians while giving up crime fiction. In 2015, I once again gave up Facebook and crime fiction for Lent and planned to read four nonfiction books instead. I succeeded on the Facebook and crime fiction front for the most part both years, but failed on what I planned to read: none of the theologians and only one of the nonfiction books.

This year I am setting my Lenten reading goals a lot more realistically: One book. That book is Being Mortal by Atul Gawande, which I plan read on the Sundays of Lent starting today. Likewise with my other Lenten goals, I am setting them more realistically with two additions and two subtractions:

  1. Church every Sunday morning with my wife and stations of the Cross with her also, at our church every Tuesday at noon as we both have off work early Tuesday afternoon.
  2. Giving up wings and soda for the rest of Lent. When you give up something for Lent, it is meant to be a true sacrifice and as those of you who follow me on social media know, I love me some wings, and the soda is something that I need to drink less of anyway. I say the rest of Lent starting tomorrow, because I did have wings on Friday and plan on having a little soda today.

Also in the interest of full disclosure, my wife and I are skipping church this morning because with the wind chills, our temperatures are in the negatives (Fahrenheit). While some of you in the Midwest might be accustomed to that regularly, here in northern Pennsylvania, especially in what has been a very mild winter up until now, we are not. Plus I worked yesterday and my wife, as a 911 dispatcher, has had a trying week so we both feel like staying in today. We will start our Lenten spiritual goals on Tuesday.

Whether or not you are a Christian, I encourage you to join me for the next 40 days. Find one book that you’ve been wanting to read, especially a nonfiction book. Give up at least one thing from your routine and add at least one thing to it. As is becoming my motto this year, “It’s all good,” and so I believe it is all good to practice self-sacrifice and self- once in a while.

If you are a Christian and practice Lent, what are your plans for the season? Whether you are or not, what is one thing that you could add to your life and one thing that you could take away that would be to your benefit, even if in the short term?

In case you missed it, on Wednesday, I talked about removing the hooks in my (and your) life, and on Friday, I answered 20 bookish questions that you can feel free to answer on your own blog or in the comments of that post, if you’d like.

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Bryan G. Robinson

Book Blogger, Library Assistant, both by choice. Blogger formerly known as Unfinished Person, but who is still an unfinished person. Library Assistant at small town library in Pennsyltucky.

21 thoughts on “My realistic 2016 Lenten goals”

  1. Wow, giving up wings?! That is a sacrifice. How long does lent last? I am not Christian but I would be willing to add some new non fiction books to my reading plan for February. As a matter of fact, I read The Finest Hours and have another few books about financial planning and gardening to add to the group.

    The financial one ties to my #OneWord so that is a good one for me. Trying to do better! Wish I could send you and your wife some sunshine from Florida but we had freezing temps last night….maybe next week 😊

  2. Even as an atheist I find Lent to be a useful exercise in self denial and try to set realistic goals for myself as well. I like Pope Francis’ idea of doing something proactive for others — that being said, I’m just trying to move more. 7,000 steps a day during the work week at the very least. We’ll see!

  3. I didn’t choose to do/give up anything for Lent this year, but I’m trying to be more mindful about the time I spend on my phone. I’ve heard wonderful things about Being Mortal, what a great selection for this season.

  4. I spent some time in the 70s observing Lent, due to my marriage into an Irish Catholic family. It was a good exercise in commitment (the marriage and the Lent…lol).

    Nowadays, I don’t give up much…that probably sounds like a selfish life, but I did spend thirty years “helping others” as a social worker, so I gave up personal and family time…a lot.

    Enjoy sticking to your goals…and here are MY WEEKLY UPDATES

  5. Wings! Thinking about all of you up in the North/East–those temps I keep seeing everywhere are scary scary. Hope you stay warm.

    I’ll likely not be giving anything up, but twitter–at least on my phone–is something that I should probably give up. Mostly because I just mindlessly scroll without doing anything meaningful on there. And to add? Probably exercise. Though, our weather has been mild enough to go for walks almost every day. It does make a big difference in my day!

    Happy Lent? Happy pre-Easter? How about Happy Sunday. 🙂

  6. We started a fitness boot camp thing recently and so it appears that for Lent I’ll be giving up everything I love: sugar, candy, soda, chocolate, pretty much anything with refined anything. And I’m giving up sitting around in favor of going to the gym.

    And I guess I’ll be giving up a lot of other stuff in the push to finish my Master’s degree. So it’s a good time of the year for sacrifice.

  7. My Lent goals: eating less sugar and adding a spinning class perhaps. For nonfiction, I plan to get to the Chrissie Hynde memoir soon, which my sister gave me for Christmas. Best wishes on your goals.

  8. I plan on reading The Last Week by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan. But not until March. I hadn’t even thought of what I’m going to give up for Lent; it’s been a while since I’ve given anything up. Perhaps I’ll think on it. I guess I’ve always figured giving to others is better than giving up something. Maybe I’ll volunteer two nights a week at the crisis hotline I work for rather than just one. That way I’ll be giving up a night every week. But now you’re just getting a stream-of-consciousness comment so I’ll stop. Even though I’ve been reading a lot of stream-of-consciousness lately.


    Oh, and does your wife enjoy being a dispatcher? One of the immediate job openings I was considering applying for when I pass my EMT certification exam in March/April (fingers crossed) is a dispatcher job. I’ve heard it’s harder than it sounds. Does she find it rewarding?

    1. Rewarding, yes. Enjoyable….sometimes. There have been amazing days, resuscitating babies, reuniting dogs with owners after they bolted into the woods following a car wreck, getting the emergency telecommunicator of the year award for the state of Pennsylvania in 2013, but there are also the days where I get screamed at by drunks, screamed at by heroin addicts whose friend is in respiratory arrest **again**, days when I listen to domestic violence *again*, days when people die and houses burn down and wrecks are fatal. Friday nights that make me hate every student at the local state university, at least the ones being rude, drunk and stupid in public. You learn a lot of lessons in this job, chief of which is that absolutely nothing in this life including the next breath of you and everyone you hold dear is guaranteed. If that plus a massive amount of memorization, critical multitasking, and depending on where you live, forced overtime and working virtually all holidays sounds like your cup of tea…go for it! 😁

      1. Thanks for the quick answer Kimberly! I expected it to be hard due to hearing the bad things and being abused by callers. But, then, I deal with that already at the crisis hotline I volunteer at, and I expect that I’ll run into the same thing working as an active EMT. I’ll keep my options open.

        1. With the crisis experience you would likely do well. What I suggest is that you see if you can find out what the work culture is at the center in your area. They vary and some are better than others.

  9. The husband and I are giving up sugar for Lent. I’ve never observed Lent before (and it’s really thanks to you that I am aware of it). This year, we decided to do something and giving up sugar is what we came up with. We only started on Saturday – so far three successful days. I am keeping my fingers crossed for this!

    Next year, I want to do something bookish or crafty. We’ll see. I wish you good luck on your goal – I think reading one particular book is a great goal. I may want to try something like that.

  10. Bryan, every year I look forward to your Lent post. Giving up wings is such a big sacrifice!

    For Lent, I’m giving up sugar. It’s such a hard thing to do. I love sugar and eat something sweet every single day. The first day of Lent was so hard. I gave in to sugar today and what I ate tasted so sweet! No more.

    I’m adding math because I need it to complete my degree. Not having a bachelor’s so I can finally get a MLIS is a huge roadblock. I need to conquer math.

    I never thought to add a literary goal for Lent. I’ll try to tackle Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon. It’s been sitting in my tbr pile for four years now.

  11. I practice Lent every year, it’s not a “thing” in my denomination (whatever that is, I’ve not figured it out…evangelical? Bible church? I just say Protestant as I think that covers it). This year I am giving up meat which at first glance may not seem difficult as I was a vegetarian for years, but it is difficult. I am adding in more focus time on the LORD, every morning is my Bible reading, and prayer and scripture writing (all in all its a solid 1-2 hours). Plus we read The Cross He Bore by Frederick Leahy (excellent book, highly recommend it. It’s our third time reading this one and we are reading it to our older kids this year again).
    I like the idea of purposefully giving up one thing and taking up one thing.

  12. I decided to do something a little different this year. I am giving up Self-Doubt for Lent.

    I used to think Self-Doubt was a way to instill humility in my life. Now I realize it keeps me from fully trusting the Lord.

    So for 40 days I’m going to try to see myself the way He sees me – and trust that He can empower me to do what He asks me to do.

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