Have you ever practiced the old tradition of Lent? Do you plan to do this year? If so, what are you giving up? And, more importantly, what are you vowing to focus on -- to be more disciplined in -- until Easter this year?
I read an interesting piece on Lent recently that helped me prepare for it this year. Ironically, Lent begins this year on my birthday (Feb 25th). My birthday is always an excuse to sleep in, eat what I know I shouldn't, etc., so I considered then putting on my practice of lent to the following day. But then I considered how appropriate it would be to start on the 25th. I celebrate 36 years of life tomorrow, and have been thinking a lot about my life and where I'm headed as I inch closer to 40. What better way to set new goals and focus on having more discipline in areas I am weak, than to start my 37th year of life vowing to give up something and put more focus on something else. What better way to refocus my life, as I seek the Lord's direction, than to get back to basics and focus on the intimacy of my relationship with Christ through the practice of self denial and discipline.
So what am I giving up? I'm giving up television (at least through the day time). I've found, now that I'm a stay at home mommy, that I spend much of my day with the television on. It runs in the background all day, "entertains me" when I don't feel like doing what I know I should be, and interrupts the quality time I should be spending with my infant daughter. I'm going to discipline myself keep the TV off until the evening (and even then only for programs my husband and I enjoy), so that I can do all the other things I always tell myself I should be doing.
I'm also giving up simple carbs, sweets and snacking. While I've always avoided calling my cravings gluttony, that's what it is. The eating of excess or the indulgence in overeating. Gluttony is basically eating anything your body doesn't need to survive. And, since my husband and I have been talking about eating better and doing what we can to improve our overall health, this seems like a logical thing to give up and a perfect way to focus on self discipline. Jesus gave up His life for me, the very least I can do for him is give up pasta, cookies, etc.
Instead, I intend to put my focus first and foremost on the discipline of simply not wasting every minute before me. Not sleeping in, but rather getting up early to spend the quiet moments of the day in prayer and in communion with God. Not lounging lazily on the couch, but instead grabbing the baby and going for a good walk or playing with her on the floor. Not indulging in useless carbs, but enjoying the simplicty of a fine vegetable and a perfectly grilled piece of salmon (or whatever) while lingering at the dinner table to enjoy the conversation... not the dessert. ;-) And not thinking about all the things I told myself I would do while on maternity leave, but instead actually doing them -- scrapbooking, writing more, soaking up every minute with my infant daughter, being the best wife possible to my overworked and underpaid husband, and ultimately, growing closer to the One who saved me and gives me life.