Yeah, I know, Lent doesn't start for a week, but the way I'm going, I need to jot this down now, while I'm thinking of it.
Every year, we have the opportunity - that is, if we belong to a religion that advocates it - to give up something for Lent.
I often joke that I'm giving up smoking, and I don't smoke, or something similar. I don't like licorice, so I'll give it up, that kind of thing.
A couple of years ago, I decided to add to, instead of take from, my life for my Lenten sacrifice. I tried to add additional works of charity. This is a super great idea, except that we've already established that I have a decided dearth of extra free time. Then I decided that I'd try to be nicer to people - and that promise didn't take into consideration that I often say that I just don't like people.
Not all people. Not you. But definitely, there are many people I just don't care for, and sometimes, that network of people is vast.
I've added the 40 bags clean out concept - and that is a good one, you clean out your house and try to get 40 bags of stuff out of it. But I know I COULD do this and I know I SHOULD do this - but it's just that this concept really doesn't seem like it will help me grow my spiritual life
which is, after all, the concept of Lent. Doing something that will help you increase your prayer life.
I've felt like giving up quite often lately.
I've always struggled in February - it's a short month that's usually longer than three others combined, it's usually dark and cold and it can be difficult to find the light. This February has been different - I actually realized a couple of days ago that I had yet to feel the depression of February appear. I was happy, attributing it to an increase in Vit D supplements, a solid and concerted effort to improve my sleep hygiene, and maybe just good luck.
And then I got sick.
My oldest son was sick, and one day I thought to myself, "Huh. I'm honestly shocked that *I* haven't been sick yet - I always get bronchitis in February! Maybe I've beaten the curse!" Oh, hahhahahhaaaa, go ahead, laugh at me.
And then I woke up the next day with a splitting headache, and it stayed for three days, and on the afternoon of the third day, the rest of it hit me. Friday afternoon, I fell into bed and I basically stayed in bed until Monday afternoon, when I drug myself to an urgent care.
An urgent care which had a wait time of 198 minutes, which, no thanks, so I went to the CVS Minute Clinic and was sent home with a Z pack and a diagnosis of a sinus infection and two ear infections. And I started to feel better Wednesday, at which point I had a migraine, and then Thursday I work up to a kid who said she felt sick
and my son had a flat tire on the way to school
and because there is strep rampant in the school it meant a dr visit before I could send her to school, in case she really was sick.
And my internet at home, the place I work about 10 hours a day, has been wonky and I needed to call the company
and my cell phone plan needs to be updated
and my health insurance denied a visit they should have covered
and I got a huge bill for something I should not have been billed for
and I wasn't recognized for something I did that I was super proud of and that burned, man,
and I could feel my blood pressure jumping up and I got more and more angry and pissed off and angry and I just thought
I cannot do it all. I can't. There is no possible way I can, and it's unfair to me to ask me to do all of these things. I'm not going to help anyone if I stroke out, I told myself. (I have stellar conversations with myself. I really do. I'm the only person who will listen to me and nod sagely while stroking her seven chin hairs.)
Segue again. I'm good with segueing.
I went to confession a couple of weeks ago and I really went because there is this "situation" at church that has been bugging me non.frickin.stop and I spoke with someone about it - basically, a third person has decided that I'm not a good person and he made a decision to drop me from a committee (a committee of which he is not in charge and has no say and literally the other 24 people want me there) but the entire situation just rubbed me SO WRONG because when he said he didn't think I was "appropriate" for the committee, it brought feelings of unworthiness and also anger and the person I spoke with encouraged me to go to talk to a priest about it, so I did. (The whole sticky mess is a church thing.)
In confession, the priest gave me this STUPID HARD HOMEWORK - I mean, among praying and doing good works and all that jazz - I had to list good things I did every night before bed.
And I BALKED AT THIS because HUBRIS, MAN. We've been so conditioned to avoid talking about the good we do, so as to avoid bragging. And it's a tricky, tricky balance - when does recognizing a good act transfer over into bragging? It's a thin white line in a loud rainbow world and I can never find it. It's hard, y'all. Try it, if you don't believe me.
Somewhere in that there practice, I found myself thinking, during the day, if an action I was about to undertake, or a sentence I was about to speak, or a thought I was thinking - would it land me on the good side of things I did all the live long day, or was it going to be an effort I shied away from remembering and squirmed uncomfortably about when I reflected? Making that dirty, difficult connection meant actively thinking about what I was doing and what I was saying - was I charitable? Was I kind? Was I helpful, and good natured, and friendly, and non judgmental?
So. If I can make those connections, and learn to slow down and be kind to myself
that's my Lenten idea.
And, just maybe, I can be more peaceful and more understanding with myself, because over and over I'm told that I'm the hardest on myself.
Oh, and I need to start taking a walk every day. No matter how much I hate it.