Today, Ash Wednesday, marks the start of the Lenten season. This means spotting ash crosses on foreheads all around campus, viewing multiple #ashtags on my news feed, announcements of people giving up Facebook for the next 40 days, and classmates quizzing me on the meaning of the day. I like Ash Wednesday because it a chance for us Catholics to come out of hiding and witness for what we believe, and it challenges me to begin a journey of detachment from habits I decide to target during Lent and to reconnect with my faith.
One way that I’ve decided to work on detachment this Lent, which I’m very excited for, is by going on a Dating Fast. *Gasp.* I used to hate listening to people talk about this experience, but I’ve finally given in and decided to pursue the fast myself. Other than the obvious requirement of giving up dating during this time, a dating fast involves eliminating all behaviors, i.e. flirting, that are meant to encourage dating and to take time to focus on yourself and your relationship with God. I’m still settling into the fast, but it already feels freeing. Going on the dating fast to me means giving up my tendencies of wondering whether I caught a guy’s attention at a party or a dance and getting a little jealous when I see him with someone else. It gives me the opportunity to overcome thinking back to happier and romantic memories of my ex as a remedy to any loneliness or desperation I feel. This habit has not allowed me to heal from residual feelings of guilt and frustration, to find forgiveness in myself for how the relationship turned out, and to move on in allowing myself to grow from the experience. Most importantly, the dating fast will give me an opportunity to rediscover myself, as I feel that I’ve lost some of my spunk and joy over the past year. It will also allow me grow to love my friends and family more and to show more gratitude towards them, a theme that I will try to focus on during this Lent. Oh, and growing closer to God and understanding what I believe will also play a part in this, too. I will be accompanied by the book pictured below during my dating fast, which offers daily reflections and some challenges along the way. I am excited for the fruits that this journey will bring!