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What Are You Giving Up for Lent?



The idea of giving something up for Lent stems from Jesus’ forty days fasting in the wilderness, facing temptation. That sacrificing something helps remind us of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. But giving up chocolate (or some other pleasure) doesn’t quite measure up to the sacrifices that Jesus made. We could never make a sacrifice like his, which is probably why I never felt compelled to give anything up for Lent. Many sacrifices that people choose to make in this time tend to be within themselves, but the above statement makes it something that can affect others.

 

I saw this Facebook post from Father Ken Saunders last year during lent and it has really stuck with me. It’s an incredibly strong statement, but also an incredibly difficult one. None of us want to think that this would be difficult, I know we all want to believe that we don’t do those things, and perhaps already do our best to avoid actively doing those things. But these things have a way of sneaking into our thoughts and actions without us realizing it.

 

There is an idea called Implicit Bias which the American Psychological Association defines as a negative attitude, of which one is not consciously aware, against a specific social group. It can make certain biases, like the ones listed in the post above, very hard to spot within our own actions. There are many stereotypes that American society have attached to minority groups that permeate the culture. This is why you may have seen the broader UCC use terms like ‘anti-racist’, because it’s a reminder that we have to work against our own implicit biases on these matters.

 

It's hard to spot something that we’re not aware of, but being aware is the first step. Thoughts that come from implicit bias often come as judgmental thoughts. It would take a tremendous amount of self-awareness and will to keep yourself from judging others, but when you notice that you have, you can take the chance to reflect on why you thought that. Use this Lenten season to really look at your own actions and thoughts to see where your biases lie.

 

I once heard some advice, your first thought about someone is what society conditioned you to think, your second thought is your thought. So, when you catch yourself thinking something that is harsh or judgy, what if you consider where the thought came from. Did it come from assumptions and stereotypes? No matter the reason, remember, everyone is deserving of love and kindness. No exceptions. (P.S. God said so!)




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