Lent: adding in just as meaningful as giving up
Last updated 2/26/2020 at 4:10pm | View PDF
Chocolate. Alcohol. Social media.
Did you give up any of these for Lent?
I've always found Lent to be an interesting time of deprivation bookended by indulgences (paczki on Fat Tuesday, baskets filled with chocolate bunnies on Easter Sunday).
As a practicing Methodist (read non-Catholic), I found the 40-day period confusing. Why give something up just to overindulge again a month and a half later?
I posed that question in a column years ago and received a rather condescending answer in a letter to the editor, if memory serves me correctly. We give things up to remind us of the many sacrifices Jesus made for us. Of course. That makes sense.
Then, a few years ago, my pastor delivered a wonderful sermon on Lent, suggesting instead of giving something up, we add a spiritual practice to our lives. Her advice has helped me find a comfortable place in the middle, where I attempt to give up some things I find interfering with the life I believe God intends me to live and add some things that will enhance it.
This year, I've got half a dozen items on my list, three to relinquish - hopefully - and three to adopt.
As much as I try to remember that worry accomplishes nothing other than keeping me from enjoying the present moment, I have a hard time escaping its powerful grasp.
I had practiced avoiding worry for many years and had attained a fair amount of success - until I had Ainsley. From issues during my pregnancy to the kids who were mean at lunch last week, I've had plenty of reasons to worry during the past 12 years.
I need to remind myself of the quote I love: You are exactly where you are supposed to be.
It's true for me. It's true for Ainsley. It's true for all of us.
How easy it is to look at others' lives and identify all the things we wish we had in our own.
But envying what others have is one of the least productive things I can do. When I focus on the things for which I am grateful, I find I have less time to ponder the things I do not have.
I think there are two kinds of pride. One is the feeling you experience when you accomplish something, like writing a particularly good story or meeting a sales quota or finally learning to speak French. Celebrating achievement is important, I believe, and something we often shortchange as we rush on to our next task or goal.
And then there's the pride that comes when we seek validation from outside of ourselves, comparing ourselves to others and measuring our worth against them. Hence the phrase "wounded pride." This is a particular challenge of mine, one likely to require more than 46 days to remedy.
It seems only fitting that in this season devoted to remembering the sacrifices Jesus made I would embrace something he worked so hard to teach us.
I find the most peace in my life when I accept things as they are. That peace is even deeper when I accept people as they are - family, friends, co-workers and, especially, myself.
My favorite abundance analogy has to do with people sunning themselves on the beach. No one worries that there won't be enough sun, do they?
There's enough - jut as there is enough love and opportunity and talent and success for us all.
- Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean. Readers can email her at [email protected]