Mindfully Approaching Lent
I’m not sure who invented Lent, but I’ve come to think of it as the first 40-day Fit Plan, or the original “boot camp.” Seems like the bookstores (or Amazon self-help) has a new book or craze and they always are written around the same concept – that enlightenment, fitness, a perfect marriage, or the perfect dream job is all attainable in 30-days.
I use Lent in this way. To refocus and add or subtract something from my life that will make my life better when the 40-days are up. And I don’t take Sundays off. We’ve all heard it takes 30-days to make or break a habit, so that makes Lent the perfect length.
What are you doing? Here’s my list.
- No more yelling – especially at my kids and family. Maybe you’re like me, or maybe I’m unstable, but I don’t walk around work and yell at people. I don’t go shopping and yell at people. Yet, I find myself too often at home yelling at my kids and wife. How unhealthy is that? The people I, in theory, love the most are the people I raise my voice to most often. We’ll, I started this before Lent and I’m putting extra emphasis on it now that Lent has begun – no raising my voice in anger.
- No talking about people negatively behind their back. I don’t consider myself a gossipy guy, and I could probably chalk it up as human nature or therapeutic, and maybe it’s a sign I have deeper issues, but I’ll be the first to admit I sometimes talk negatively about other people. And it’s nothing sinister (I say trying to justify it), but it can’t be healthy to do it. It’s destructive and pointless. I shouldn’t be burning brain cells thinking about others shortcomings or judgingj them.
- Be “mindfull”. I’m going to practice “mindfulness” as I understand it. Here’s what I do – I think about work too much. I think about chores that I should be doing, or something I should be writing, or someone I should call – while doing other things. Most notable, when I’m spending time with my kids, too often my brain is somewhere else thinking about other things. Why?!?! What a waste of great moments! Three recent examples that make me sad with myself revolved around church, fishing with my son, and my sleep issues. Too many times I come away from church and if you ask me, “what were the Readings and Gospel about and what did the Preist talk about during the Homliy,” I honestly have no idea. So what’s the point of even going to church if the entire time I’m thinking about my to-do list at work, the bathroom ceiling that needs to be painted, and a door knob that needs changing? And another time recently, and often last summer, while fishing with my son – and fishing is supposed to be the ultimate “time out” – I was snapped back to reality when he said, “Dad? Dad? Do you think that’s true?” And it occurred to me he had been talking for many minutes and telling me something amazing and then asked a question, and I hadn’t a clue what he was just saying. I hate myself when that happens and I have to ask him to repeat himself and, this particular time he said, “nevermind.” Stuff like this haunts me and shame on me. Practicing “mindfulness” will help me have less regrets and, thereby, help me sleep at night – which usually consists of me waking up and thinking about regrets like this. Mindfulness is about enjoying the moment you’re in. When I’m fishing with my son … I need to fish with my son and not think about work or funny things to write.
So, that’s going to be my Lent. I’m going to work on being completely and totally in the moment. What did you give up for Lent? Or what will you start doing?