I was called out recently. It’s OK, really, it was necessary. It made me stop and think and realize that I was once again making a mistake that I was attempting to avoid. Let me explain. I brought up the topic of Fat Tuesday on Facebook and inevitably, the discussion turned to “what are you doing for Lent?”. As a Catholic, I have participated in the Lenten practice of sacrifice – choosing something that I would eliminate from my life for 40 days in hopes of that void bringing me closer to God. In addition to eliminating things, I also add things to my daily routine that will, hopefully, make me a “better” person. This year, I wanted to focus more on the addition of things – more writing, more exercise, more time in the Bible, and yes, l was also planning less time on-line. Upon seeing my list of Lenten goals, a good friend asked, “Wasn’t’ your word of the year ENOUGH?”. Ouch.
She caught me. I was obviously unaware of the path I was walking down once again. I do it on almost every occasion… pretty much daily. My list is too long and my expectations are too high. Because of this, my needs – in the end – are unmet. Each day, I’m tired, frustrated and disappointed if I don’t get to check every box. This is nothing new. I can distinctly remember being a 6th grade Kelly Jean, laying in bed at night trying to figure out how I was going to “get it all in”. At 12 years old, my mind was already full speed ahead, and I had little sympathy for my own desire to stop and rest for a bit. At 47, God has tapped me on the shoulder so many times, that I am now 100% certain that this is an issue that needs my attention. This year, I am devoting extra attention to how I am feeling – regardless of the stupid list of things to do ( that I have created) that sits on my counter. Yet, as Lent approached, I fell back to my old ways while visualizing how I wanted to spend the next 40 days.
Now, with that being said, the things that I had planned to focus on were not inherently bad things. All of them were good – all would benefit me in different ways. I love to write. It helps me to express my opinion more easily than speaking. It brings me peace. Peace is good, right? I already exercise. It’s a stress reliever for me, more than anything else. And, in the end, it allows me to eat the way I like to eat and not worry about gaining weight. Win/win – right?! And reading the Bible? How could that ever be a bad thing? Well, after thinking about it, I’ve come to a conclusion. The ideas and plans that I create for myself are never the issue. It’s the AMOUNT of things I put on my “plate” (which is more like a serving tray) that eventually brings me to my knees. And I *KNOW* I am not alone in this. As parents, spouses, employees, volunteers, neighbors and more – it’s hard to keep piling on the hats and continue walking towards our goals successfully. This year, I am attempting to still wear my hats, just not all at the same time, and that takes planning, too – but it’s worth it.
In the end, as Lent begins, I am happy to say that I will be focusing on two things: my mind and body. I will read the Bible, but without strict guidelines of when and why. I will work out, but without hard to reach weight loss goals or structured scheduled days and times. I will listen to my body a bit more and also focus on rest – which is not a concept that I am very familiar with … are you? I am looking forward to the next 40 days, and I think I will benefit greatly. I am especially grateful for my friend that made me aware that I was getting in my own way – that was my first blessing of the Lenten Season.