Making Realistic Lenten Promises

College is chaotic.

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Image courtesy of Janaka Dharmasena /

Even though we have set class schedules, the amount of homework and projects and meetings are constantly shifting from week to week. With a schedule constantly in flux, it’s hard to be consistent about anything, especially diets and New Year’s resolutions.

If you’re still keeping up with your New Year’s resolutions, now you’ve got another challenge staring you down: Lent.

Giving up anything that you really enjoy for an extended period of time can be rough, no matter what it is. But trying to keep up with this in college — where there are temptations around every corner — makes keeping your Lenten promise even harder.

If you still haven’t settled on a Lenten promise yet, here are some ideas on how to keep that promise for all 40 days.

Give up something that will help your health

For me this year, it’s pop (or soda, as some of you call it). As much as I love Mountain Dew, I’m trying to lose weight AND I’ve been getting a bunch of cavities lately. I need to take a break from pop! As hard as it’s going to be, I will keep myself in check by reminding myself that this is for LENT. This makes it harder for me to cheat on my promise, since this isn’t just some random diet I’m putting myself on. Knowing that I’m working to keep up with a promise I made to God while I’m getting myself in better shape gives me much more motivation.

Try to change a behavior that you don’t like about yourself

I, for one, need to work on gossiping. I hate that part about myself. Sometimes I wish I could stop myself mid-sentence, but the “word vomit” won’t stop flowing. Since I already know that I don’t like this about myself, it makes me more eager to change it. Add in the fact that this is a good Lenten promise to make because this will make me a better Christian, and I know this will help me continue on for the whole season.

Instead of taking something away, ADD something

Lent doesn’t always have to mean the absence of something — it could also mean that you pledge to devote more time to volunteering or spending time with a grandparent instead. Focusing on a positive goal is a lot easier than focusing on a negative one. It’s also a lot easier to pump yourself up by saying, “I will do this,” instead of saying, “I won’t do this.”

No matter what you choose to give up (or chose to do), it’s not going to be easy. Your friends may not understand why this pledge means so much and could tempt you to break your pact with God without even realizing it. Good luck!

Don’t celebrate Lent? No worries! There are still ways to add some positive changes to your life. If you’ve already given up on your New Year’s resolutions, try to make some new ones. These tips I’ve offered for Lenten promises could also apply to New Year’s resolutions.

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