Monday, March 3, 2014

Lent is coming!

The season of Lent is almost upon us.  Because I was part of a more liturgical type of Presbyterian church growing up, we did celebrate Lent as part of the lead-up to Easter.  I remember giving various things up during Lenten seasons in high school and college: chocolate, sweets, orange juice (I drank copious amounts each day so it was actually a sacrifice).

 I've also had at least Lenten "fail," like one year proudly swearing off talking rudely about someone I didn't like.


Helpful hint: it doesn't count as a sacrifice to give up something that you already shouldn't be doing.  

In more recent years I've given up Facebook, eating out, and sugar.  

So every year at about this time, I wonder what I'll sacrifice this time.  Right now is no exception.  I've seen plenty of excellent suggestions.  But I'm also keenly aware of my struggle with all or nothing perfectionism , and boy can this come out of the woodwork during Lent.  

If Lent calls for self-sacrifice, then only the biggest and best self-sacrifice will do, right?  Go big or go home.  

Here were some of the things I've been considering:

1.  Give up an hour or half hour of sleep.
2.  Cut out one meal per day.
3.  Give up internet use.
4.  Not go out on dates.

Any one of those would be a substantial sacrifice for me (well, we haven't gone out on a date in a long while, but we are hoping to do so soon).  I was also feeling pretty stressed out about the prospect of taking on any of these sacrifices.

Fortunately for me, today Kendra provided some wise quotations from notable saints about what makes a good (and bad) choice for Lenten sacrifice.  Guess what? It's not a good choice if YOUR sacrifice ends up making OTHER people miserable.  In other words, don't foist your sacrifice upon others.  Also, don't make a sacrifice that already fits in line with something that will merely enhance your pride and vanity (a la the Pharisees).

That rules out all four of my ideas for one reason or other. #1, 2, and 4 would most likely foist misery on others in my family.  #3 would also make it pretty difficult to honor my commitment to write blog posts for Real Housekeeping.  #2 would also tempt me to make an idol of losing weight instead of focusing on the sacrifice.

So, what am I going to do?

Well, right now I'm leaning towards not giving anything up so much as taking something on: matching.

Maybe matching whatever money we spend on a date night with money to put towards a charity like Blood:Water Mission.

Maybe putting money that we would have spent on some of our groceries towards Lahash's Rice and Beans initiative.

I have to check with my hubby about those ideas because they involve spending our money (which he obviously gets a say in!)

But one thing I can match without having to ask anyone's permission is matching the time I spend on the internet with time spent in prayer and meditating on God's word and other spiritual reading.  

There's an easy and free website that I used to use frequently in the classroom that I can use to track my time online.  Honestly, I'm a little scared to track it because I KNOW I'm going to be shocked by how much time in a day I'm spending online.

My brother and sister in law don't have internet at home right now as a moneysaver and it's also a huge time saver for them.  I don't like to think of myself as someone who wastes a lot of time online, but I know I do…and it's always scary to find out the concrete details to back up your abstract bad habits.

Anyway, that's my plan for now.  If you celebrate Lent, what are your plans?

7 comments:

  1. I LOVE the prayer/internet matching. That's a great idea!

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    1. Agreed! Though for myself, I'd have to make a distinction between "work" and "goofing off"---if I'm in Google Drive, it doesn't count. Right? (Please say yes.)

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    2. Yes, if most of a person's work has to happen online, then one can make a distinction. That just makes sense to me.

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  2. Brilliant. I think giving up much of the things I really enjoy in life just make me (and everyone else miserable! I think I may join you in the prayer/internet matching!

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  3. This is a really great idea, and it's one I haven't heard before. I hope you'll keep us posted on how it works out for you!

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  4. So much to think about here. I am turning over and over in my mind that line you shared, that you shouldn't give up something you shouldn't be doing. I always try to "correct" my life during Lent...and what you are doing here is so much more.

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  5. Great post! Thank you! Especially:

    "It's not a good choice if YOUR sacrifice ends up making OTHER people miserable. In other words, don't foist your sacrifice upon others."

    I think I'd better put a copy of this somewhere for me to look at next year and the year after that and the year after that...

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