I know Lent started a few days ago, in case you think I'm confused - it takes time (and by that, I mean seriously trying to find time) to put some things into words, especially when I can feel they are taking a detour from the tone of my usual post.
When I was a kid Lent was the time of year I was supposed to give something up, usually something I really like. Chocolate, for instance. I doubt I stuck to that promise every time because, let's face it, the easiest way to make someone crave something is to forbid it. But I know I tried. As an adult, personally I think it's a private joke between God and the Girl Scouts that cookies are delivered this time of year.
These days the message is that maybe this whole giving-up-something-for-Lent thing should not be taken quite so literally. For me, it's not about what I can give up materially. It's giving up and letting go of the habits that keep me from being the best person I can be. It's about letting myself grow in God's eyes. So here are a few things I am striving for in these six weeks, having faith that it will stick.
#1 Let my gratitude and thanks show.
It's not that I don't appreciate what I am blessed with every day. It's that I forget to say it, not just to my Maker but to my family, friends, coworkers - anyone I come across. The other day we received a thank you card in the mail from someone we helped out in a very minor, pretty much unnoticeable way. At first I reacted with a little laugh that this person would even think a note was necessary. Then it struck me - he knew it wasn't. He did it because he was simply grateful for our efforts, and thankful for our relationship. Imagine if we all did that, just because.
#2 Let go of the voices in my head.
There's a bumper sticker that I've seen a few times in my travels - Don't believe everything you think. That is beyond appropriate for me because I have had full conversations in my mind, usually arguments or biting words from someone (and my absolutely brilliant response) that never happened, and most of the time never will. It's a sort of self-defense mechanism that crops up when I allow myself to feel small (not like a size 10 small, which I would welcome, but a foolish, I'm-an-idiot type of small). And even if a remotely similar conversation does happen, it is always so much worse in my head. Reason enough to reroute those thoughts to NeverHappenedLand instead of allowing that negativity to invade my psyche ahead of time.
#3 Let myself feel accomplished.
Yes, I know this is not the Season of Me, but hear me out. When I downplay my God-given abilities or talents, I believe it is a negative stance against the direction I know my Creator has in store for me. As the saying goes, God don't make no junk. But when I don't acknowledge my own attempts or accomplishments it prevents me from using and sharing them in the positive way they were intended to be. And God's not buying my excuses because, after all, He gave me these gifts and He still holds the warranty - which can be revoked at any time. So the goal this Lenten season is to take more chances, write more pieces, enter more contests, and surround myself with other writers who think like me (so I won't have to hide my crazy).
Here's hoping this season, whether it's Lent or the coming of Spring, gives you something to look forward to.... besides Thin Mints, I mean.