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Inspired to Give Instead of Giving Up

When denying herself for Lent came to feel stale, an Oklahoma woman chose to focus on others.

An artist's rendering of a woman holding a door for a man

The first day of Lent and I hadn’t decided what I was going to give up. In the past I had denied myself coffee, soft drinks and desserts. But the truth was, the whole concept of giving something up for Lent felt stale.

Then one day, on my way to volunteer at my daughter’s school, an idea came to me. What if I tried giving instead of giving up? I could be more generous with my time, my patience, my compassion and do a random act of kindness every day.

I was in the school workroom making copies when a frazzled teacher burst in. “I hate to ask, but can I cut in?” she said. “I need to make two hundred copies and no one’s watching my class.”

I took the papers from her and said, “Don’t worry. I’ll take care of the copies and bring them by.”

For 40 days I gave out extra compliments, made a point of holding doors for people and let others go ahead of me in traffic and in the grocery store checkout line. One evening I realized I hadn’t done my random act yet. “Foot rubs for the entire family!” I declared. My husband and daughter were thrilled.

The best part? The spirit of my Lenten practice stayed with me long past the season. Giving of yourself feels good all year long.


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