At the beginning of Lent, I decided to take up the “40acts challenge” to do Lent generously. We’ve seen how I (barely?) managed with the first 5 acts but recovered with Acts 6 to 10. Now we’re on Act#33 so I’ve a lot to report! Let’s start with the next 5.

(In red was what the challenge said to do and in blue was what crossed my mind when I read it…followed by what I actually did do)

act #11: leave your comfort zone

People often say ‘I don’t want to be rich, I just want to be comfortable’. Comfort has become a trophy; a prize to strive for. Well, let’s turn that on it’s head. Be uncomfortable today. Go out of your way, do hard things and leave your comfort zone. Do something different today that forces you out of your comfort zone. Small steps are often best, but if you don’t keep moving forward, where you stand today is as far as you are going to get.

Leave my comfort zone? =O

Hhhuuurrrmmm…okaaaayyyy…

What I actually did do:

I was more generous with my smiles to strangers and initiated small talk with people I barely know. For a reserved person like me who normally doesn’t quite come off as friendly when it comes to new people, this is quite out of my comfort zone.

Verdict: Done

act #12: pass it forward

The concept is simple: do something nice for someone, and ask for nothing in return. Instead, they have to pass the favour forward. It doesn’t have to be the same favour; this one’s all about spotting a need and using the resources you have to fix it. There are no special skills required and it’s not just about wallets, it can be about something much greater than that. It can about your time. It’s buying a coffee for a stranger and explaining you don’t want their money, their number or even to be their friend on Facebook. You simply want them to pass it forward.

However, the greatest thing we can ‘pass forward’ is the message of the gospel. This is the ultimate ‘pass it forward’ object, and the only one that will last into the Kingdom still to come. If nothing else, pass that message forward. Look for, pray for the right time, the right place, the right opportunity to buy a coffee, a burger, or something similar – or perhaps simply to pay a compliment to someone you don’t know. Pass on a Christian book, leaving a note in the front instructing the next reader to do the same. Consider becoming a mentor to a younger person. It could catch on and span generations.

Sure thing! I’ve always been meaning to do this after watching the movie “Pay it forward“…now is the perfect opportunity to do it!

What I actually did do:

I think the most substantial act I did was to go out of my way to help my landlord (whom I wouldn’t even normally approach and strike a conversation with, excluding business) push his old van when it wouldn’t start. Normally, I would have just drove past ‘cos you know, I’m a woman – we’re not actually built to do heavy labour and just me and him (he was in his late 40s or 50s maybe?), I doubt we would be able to push a vehicle!

But I sushed those voices in my head & offered to help. He gladly accepted. And after huffing and puffing for several minutes, we managed to push it enough to get the momentum it needed to start! Sure, I got my hands dirty and all, but the feeling of being able to help him was just amazing! I felt so light, I swore I was walking on air, grinning all the way. It didn’t even bother me he didn’t say Thank you afterwards either. I didn’t tell him to pass it forward though, but somehow, I’m sure he will anyways.

Verdict: DONE

act #13: pray

When you talk to God about other people, He listens. The upshot of this is that they get blessed because of your prayers. If you’ve never thought of prayer as a generous act, then you’ve been underestimating how effective it is. Be encouraged – your prayers are powerful gifts to others. Take time out to pray for a few people today: friends, enemies, co-workers, children.

Pray for others…easy.

What I actually did do:

Easier said than done! I had to make a mental list of people whom I said I would pray for and made sure I did. And especially those who needed specific prayers, for eg. a family member is ill or has passed away, I really made sure I prayed for them. And I did.

Verdict: Done

act #14: waste time with others

You’ve got a meeting at 4.30, which will probably run way beyond your 6pm clock-off time, and you’d really like to grab an hour at the gym before heading home. You’ve also got that report to write, dinner to cook, ironing to do and maybe – maybe – you’ll manage to squeeze 15 minutes of telly in before you fall into bed in an exhausted heap. STOP. Reclaim the heart of relational life. It’s more important to spend time with a loved one – even if you’re not doing anything ‘productive’ – than it is to make sure the ironing basket is empty. Reorder your priorities, and make sure you’re factoring some uncontrollable laughter, mud pies and sofa-jumping into your day.

Lent is as much about giving as giving up and the New Testament holds out different pictures of giving. It talks about the giving of our gifts – throwing into the mix our individual talents and experience, “so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Ephesians 4:12). It also talks about the giving of our money – taking the risk, in the midst of considerable financial uncertainty, of spending our earnings on our churches and on others and on the poor. There is also another form of giving that the Bible speaks about: giving one’s time to people, and people from whom you don’t expect anything in return; men and women with whom, in all honesty, you may not ‘click’ nor naturally gravitate towards; those whom at first you may not even like.

We fill our working and leisure time with productive meetings and tasks, try and spend some time today with someone old or someone new. Buy a coffee or while away some precious moments in the company of others you wouldn’t normally spend time with. Surprise others and surprise yourself!

Got it.

What I actually did do:

I stayed to hang out with friends, even when what I really wanted was to do was to go home and sleep. That counts right?

Verdict: Done

act #15: send a thank you note

Living with lots of criticism and no thanks can harden people, but appreciation of the smallest things can make a person feel cherished and worthwhile. This Lent, express your generosity by saying Thank you to people who have built into your life. So whether it is a note, a bunch of flowers, an invitation to a meal or a phone call, say Thank You in some special way at least once each week during Lent. Think and act on it! Write a thank you note to someone that has helped or inspired you. Encourage others to do the same. A hand written note or card is always lovely to receive but family, friends or old acquaintances love ‘catch-up’/thank you e-mails as well.

With who and where do I start?

What I actually did do:

I sent a few catch-up emails especially to those I haven’t seen in a while. Didn’t actually say Thank You to them but I told them I was thinking of them and asked how they were doing. It was good to get in touch again.

Verdict: Done

So there you have it, 15 acts so far!

Acts 16 to 20 will be published tomorrow so stay tuned! ;)

40 days, 40 reflections, 40 simple acts…

HAVE A BLESSED LENT!

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