First thing first…the disclaimer: I am a Christian. Just a Christian. Not a Baptist Christian, nor a Methodist Christian, nor a Catholic Christian. Just a Christian.
I do not subscribe to the dissection of faith that creates different denominations and allows one group to judge another group as lacking or less. I’m sure that particular viewpoint makes me pretty unpopular, but that is ok.
I do, on the other hand, have a tremendous respect for the traditions and ceremonies that different people choose to observe within their faith. I also believe that a time for reevaluating, refocusing, and renewal is a beautiful thing. So, although it’s not a family ritual or a “typical thing” done within my family, I’ve decided to participate in Lent this year.
My first step was to learn a little more about Lent. Here are a few articles that I found helpful:
- Lent 2014 — Why does an ancient ritual still have so much power? | Fox News.
- Lent: Spring Training for Christians
- What is Lent?
The best part about what I read: everyone observes Lent in their own person and unique way. There is no wrong or right, so I can’t screw this up – hip hip hooray!!
My next step was to ask myself the three questions that I posed to you earlier today:
- What is something you want but don’t need? It should be something that weighs you down or holds you back, something that you rely on too much and would be well-served to put on the back burner for a while.
- What are you willing and able to do without? I’d like to give up all forms of spending for 40 days, but the water department, electric company, wage-earning husband, and starving teens might have a slight problem with that. This “something” should be something you will miss but can definitely live without.
- What areas of personal growth would you like to foster? Don’t just concentrate on the “give up” aspect of the next 40 days; make a list of 40 “add to” items that will enrich your world.
Then I had to examine my answers to determine how my 40 days of Lent would shape up…what I decided is that #1: I need to give up dessert (yes, I really am giving up my beloved sweets for 40 full days because while I moan, groan, and complain that I am not the size I want to be, I also justify one little cupcake, just a taste – or bowlful – of cobbler, and maybe just a handful of these hot-out-of-the-oven cookies), #2: I am desperate to let go of my clutter (the old adage is true that whatever space one has, one will find a way to fill, and I have 4000 square feet plus two attics and a lake cabin to prove it…oy vey), and #3: I really want to follow through on the little things that I let slip by each day (I am not a self-disciplined person; therefore, I wake up with great intentions, a very spiffy To-Do list, and not enough inclination nor motivation to get things done; in the end, I sputter out only to feel down, frustrated, or guilty about it all later).
The true “giving up” part for Lent is easy: no sugary, sweet, scrumptious desserts until Easter. Come Easter Sunday, though, I fully intend to save a little room at the end of dinner to savor my success!
The second “doing without” part is a little tougher, but something that has been on my mind and in my heart for a while now. My sister gave me the greatest t-shirt in the world; it’s made of the softest cotton I’ve ever felt, and it reads “Live with Less” with an anchor in the background. It’s a mantra that I truly want to adopt!
For me, that means breaking the vicious cycle of letting STUFF pin me down, overwhelm me, or stress me out. Just as the 40 days of Lent are intended to refocus our hearts, I think I can also refocus my perspective.
I can “make do” with the myriad of clothes that I’ve already purchased (because they were adorable and I liked them) instead of buying the super cute dresses that flood my Pinterest and Facebook feeds; I mean, honestly, can you remember what I was wearing the last time we were together? Don’t worry – neither can I…
I can utilize the gobs and oodles of gift wrapping, scrapbooking, and craft supplies that are taking up space in every available closet, attic, nook, and cranny instead of grabbing something new at the store simply for convenience. I’m a creative gal – without a doubt I am capable of using what is at my disposal. I just have to do it!
If I manage to find myself bored one day, I can spend the afternoon cleaning up my craft space, organizing a closet or pantry, completing a quilt or crochet project that was set to the side, or digging weeds out of my flowerbeds instead of running to town for something to do and someplace to eat. My world is full of stuff, stuff that I must have liked or else I would not have paid money to bring it all home with me, so for the next 40 days (and hopefully beyond) I intend to use up, clean out, and reorganize my STUFF.
Finally, the hardest part…the personal growth portion of the program. This is where the 40 things for 40 days comes into play. I made a wish list of 40 To-Do items that I talk about doing and dream about doing but rarely actually do. Some of the things are hobbies, some are indulgences, some are entertainment, and some are just peaceful, relaxing, quiet time for me. All of them are special to me, and I know that I’ll enjoy doing them as well as crossing them off my To-Do list. For 40 days, I will focus, for at least one moment each day, on me.
Here are my first 10 days – that’s as far as I’ve matched the To-Dos with the To-Days.
I feel certain that at least one activity will make me think of another activity that I simply can not live without and will, thus, add to the list, so the 40 I cross off throughout Lent will most likely be a little different from the 40 I have written on my list today.
I also know that your list will look totally different than mine, but I hope you will give it a try with me. After the fright of Halloween, the feasts of Thanksgiving, the chaos of Christmas, the mind-numbing torture of back to school, and the endless waves of winter we have had, I think a few weeks to refocus, refresh, and renew will be really rewarding!
Good luck, and please, please, please share your plans and progress!!
Day 1 down,