I meant to write this ages ago, and just never got around to it. The story of my life right now. Anyway. Here's what I did for Lent.
I gave up tv.
NO, not completely. That would be akin to emotional suicide, as I need my tv to distract me occasionally and keep me sane. I did give it up largely, though. I allowed myself one show a day, unless I had gotten a huge amount done on my thesis that day. And whatever day each week was my 'day off' (usually Saturdays so I could watch the rugby), I allowed myself whatever tv I wanted to watch. But largely, I gave up watching tv so that I could focus more on my thesis. Take away my main distraction, and viola! Or so I thought.
It did work pretty well, actually. It's just there's always something to distract me. If it's not tv, it's stressing over my visa situation. Or staring off into space. Or doing housework. Whatever. I had hoped that I would have my draft ready-steady-go by Easter... but not quite. It didn't go to plan that way, but I'm close. I just get stressed about other things, on top of already being stressed about my thesis, and my focus disappears. And my motivation disappears. And my moods drop through the floor. And my sleeping isn't restful. And on and on and on.
And yet, I am making progress. And I've cut down the number of shows I follow. ;)
The other thing I did during Lent was to read a Psalm every morning before I even got out of bed. I already read my Bible at night as part of my bedtime routine, but adding it in the morning as well has been something new for me. It's been a good change, though, and I'm going to keep it up. Just read one a morning, and when I've read all of them, start over. More time in the Word can't be a bad thing.
So really, for Lent, instead of giving up things... I added things. More work on my thesis. More time reading Scripture. Other years, I've written a letter a day to friends or families. Why do I give myself more to do, rather than the traditional 'giving up stuff' for Lent? Because they way I see it, the purpose of Lent is to prepare my heart for Easter. To re-evaluate my life, to repent and seek reconciliation, to draw closer to God and others. So. If that's the goal, then just giving up chocolate or coffee or whatever isn't necessarily getting me any closer to those goals. If I do give something up, like fasting during the day, then I should be using the time I would have been eating to pray or read Scripture or something else towards the ultimate goal of preparing for Easter. When I take something up, like reading Scripture, then I don't feel the need to trade that out for something else.
This year, because I feel like my thesis is God-inspired and my calling right now, working on it and getting it done is part of my spiritual journey, one way I am yearning to draw closer to God. Largely because it won't get done if God doesn't work in me, I decided that focusing on it even more specifically than I might normally was the best way I could honour God and prepare myself for Easter. Did it work? Yes, I think so. Even though I didn't quite get finished. God knows I'm trying. =)