As a girl who was raised Catholic by, literally, my entire family, Lent is a season that I know well. For those who are not Catholic, during Lent, Catholics (and other Christians), Lent is a season of repentance, prayer and fasting. One form of fasting that is "required" would be to abstain from meat on Fridays. The meat includes the flesh and organs of mammals and/or fowl. Note: if you see a Catholic eating any fish product, salt and/or freshwater fish and/or "critters" are allowed.
Then there is prayer. This is something that is being done year round but can always be done more. For example, instead of "giving up" something last year, I chose to add a daily reflection and utilized this book by Matthew Kelly to guide those:
Last, there is repentance. This is all about "punishing" ourselves and showing remorse for our sins. There are added confession times at local Churches that allow us to start anew. There is also the ever-so-popular "giving up" of something. This is done in an effort to, not only "punish" ourselves so-to-speak but to, hopefully, better ourselves while also allowing us to focus more on God and not on the item, idea, or whatever that we are "giving up." Although my extra reflection from last year was truly eye-opening and absolutely brought me closer to God, this year I chose to give up something a little TOO near and dear to my heart... TARGET.
Working approximately 2 blocks from a local Target has been convenient and I have truly enjoyed being able to just pop right on over and pick up a few things for my daughters if they ever need anything or pick up a gift for a birthday that I had forgotten was coming up, etc. However, I started to notice a trend when I would check-in on the joint bank account that my husband and I share. Almost every other debit from our account was from Target. I was spending at least 1 lunch break session there per week and then would make online purchases at LEAST twice per week. I would buy items I thought my girls needed or of things that I had seen and not purchased during my in person visit that was then than regretting not purchases but didn't have time to actually go back and get...or just about anything else I could think of that I most likely didn't actually need. I mean, why not? I have a "Target Red Card" with free shipping after all.
Then, the Lenten season approached and I pondered what I could do to better myself and that's when it hit me, Target was taking over my life and actually causing a dent on the funds that our family needed to achieve our future goals. My husband and I have been talking about moving for a while now and we want to pay off our student loans and we want to save money for our tiny princesses, etc. All of these real life goals are important and by consistently spending unnecessary funds at Target (yes Target, I still love you), I was putting not only my own future goals but my family's future goals farther and farther out of our reach. That was when I decided right then and there that I would take in to account that those goals are also my husband's goals and that I might actually be standing in the way of them with my unnecessary spending.
Now, with Easter rapidly approaching I can honestly say that, unlike the multiple times that I have given up caffeine for Lent and then picked it right back up, that Target and I might have to be on a more permanent hiatus. Slowly, but surely, the savings that my husband and I have been building in order to achieve our future goals is starting to creep back up and I am learning what I actually do and do NOT need now that I can't just run to Target; I actually have to plan my shopping trips and the time for planning has made me reconsider purchasing many an item that I normally would have just ran out and purchased over lunch because I could. On top of all of this, this experience has absolutely brought me closer to God as, every time I have felt the urge to head to my favorite place, I stop and think about why I gave up Target and WHO I gave up Target for. That thought process is just the reality check that I need to bring my focus back to the things that are most important in life and not a single one of those things are material items.