The 22nd was, as many of you likely know, Ash Wednesday. We fasted all day until our vegetarian meal at 5pm. I'm sticking with my goal of not drinking Sundays through Thursdays, but since Todd is giving up cussing due to Alexandra's remarkable ability to perfectly pronounce both Shit and Fuck, I'm also giving up cussing (out loud). I'm also trying to abstain from sweets. So it's not like I haven't added anything new.
I'm also adding in a good habit, one that I've really, really wanted to do for the past couple of months, and that is eat together as a family. Todd and I work out avidly, regularly, and we do so in the evenings. There is just no way in hell I am getting up at 5am, 6am, now that my child sleeps til 8am or later, in order to work out when I can just darn well do it between 4pm and 5pm.
Anyways, because of our workout schedules, we eat rather late. Ok, I can honestly say it's more to do with Todd's schedule because he's not just working out, he's also teaching others the fine art of kung fu. And really, there's no way to get other working people out there to drop everything and punch medicine balls at each other, beat dead tree trunks with their forearms and learn how to beat down the opponent who is about to shoot you execution style at 3pm. I mean, I know they'd want to (who wouldn't) but they just can't.
Todd's classes are over at 8pm, so I don't start cooking until at least then. Sometimes not even til 8:30pm. Sorry, I can't see my computer screen anymore for I have hung my head in shame.
SO, I told Todd my good habit for Lent is adding in as many family dinners as we can muster. And since he doesn't teach Wednesdays, Fridays, or on the weekends, it's looking like we'll be eating together as a family more days than not, which makes me so, so happy.
But I don't want to stop just there. I'll be the first to admit, I tend to take advantage of Lent in a somewhat selfish way: use this as a time to finally get done what you've been meaning to do. Because come on, once you promise something to God, during this time when Christ fasted, gave up so much and suffered temptation, I mean, how much of a jerk can you be to go back on that promise?
So I do use it to a selfish end, which is probably so utterly anti-Lent that God might just tell me to go cuss my head off and get drunk on my lunch break (I wish).
But there's another side, a far more prevalent side, I'm happy to say, that really wants to use this time to get closer to God through being an all around better person. Which is closely linked to what my New Year's resolutions were, but in a far less shallow, "My goodness, I need to wear more blush" sort of way. Being a better person all around. Less cussing. No succumbing to weaknesses. Being present in life. Being there for loved ones.
Lent tends to get a bad rap for being that time you give up sweets, the television, red meat, the internet, gossiping, etc. Which really, depending on how dependent you are on those things, doing without is actually food for the soul. But Lent is also a time to align yourself with God by filling your days with good habits, ones you weren't really excelling at before. Like family dinners. Going to church more regularly. Being kind to others. Being more charitable.
I don't really like to get religious or political here, but I've become somewhat introspective and contemplative in just the past two days, and the cause is Lent. I started off feeling actually pretty blue this morning, and was confused about those feelings until I realized that Lent had me focusing on the things I wanted to change about who I am, in a negative light. I think it does that to a lot of people. "I can't do what I want to do because of Lent, but I gave it up because it's a bad part of me. But I still miss it and this sucks."
Perhaps it's because the sacrifices I wanted to make were markers of some of my weaknesses; caloric indulgence and the good old fashioned swear word; even the good habit I want to add is a mark that there's been something missing in our lives: family time. But I think it's always a good thing to remember the other side of every coin we come across in life, especially if it's the lighter side. There's good in all of us, and these 40 days can and should be used to let that good flag fly a little higher. There's a joy and freedom to living life a little more selflessly, and there's nothing deprivative about that.
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