Lent. Day 1
Technically day 2, but I’m posting yesterday’s insights today because that is about how organized I am at the present time.
I no longer do New Year’s Resolutions. Instead, I observe Lent.
This is my way of using spirituality and church tradition to jumpstart new habits and indulge in a bit of snobbish elitism. Or perhaps, more accurately, I am appropriating a practice from a faith tradition not my own.
All that to say, Lent is here, and it’s a complicated experience for me.
I used to observe it more vocally, and to be perfectly honest, more diligently. I’ve given up everything from caffeine to texting to movies to muffins. One year I started out giving up a few things, then gave up about a week and a half into it. That year, in a very real sense, my heart wasn’t in it.
Abstaining from things strictly for the sake of tradition, obligation or cultural participation is a lonely and frustrating process. The years Lent has been more meaningful, I’ve given up things that were significant in the space in my life they occupied. Or I used my abstinence(particularly from texting) as a statement to my community.
I can’t stand doing things just to do them.
This year is mixed. I have put some thought into what I would do this Lenten season…but then I also forgot about it until my housemate came up from the basement late one night and said he was off to Starbucks for his last dairy before Lent, which started the very next day.
One could fairly say that my practice of Lent is unsophisticated and clumsy.
Yet still I will do it. I am interested in overcoming the shame voice which says I can never amount to anything, nor take any intentional control of my life, nor ever be more than my most banal impulses and pleasure cravings. Also, I want my life to be more orderly. Also, honestly I feel good when I say ‘no’ to things.
The variation on Lent, which I did last year and would like to do again, is to work toward creative goals as opposed to restrictive goals.
Instead of giving up my shows, I’m going to aspire to journal every day. By prioritizing journaling, my shows may end up getting bumped quite naturally.
Instead of giving up Facebook outright, I’m committing to only logging on if I’m going to post something. (Probably about 1% of the time I spend on Facebook is producing content; the rest is mindless scrolling and liking.)
Instead of giving up free reading(which honestly I don’t have a whole lot of time for anyway), I’m renewing the commitment I made when I started the Christ Year, that being to read in the Gospels every day, continuously throughout the year. I’ve gotten distracted from that goal by Isaiah and Acts, but now would be a good time to resume the original discipline.
Life is not what I thought it would be. I am not as disciplined or accomplished as I thought I’d be. I’m not as strong of character or resilient as I’d hoped I would be – in fact I’m quite easily overwhelmed these days. The shame voice is very loud and would have me give up on aspirations and become a mindless consumer of media.
And mind you, I really do like my mindless media.
But I want to be more. By God’s grace, I will be more. Forgetting those things which are behind, I press on to those things which are ahead. I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy
Lord, have mercy.