OK, are you going to wimp out and choose giving up chocolate for Lent – again? I’m not sure when giving up chocolate became the “in” thing to do for Lent but honestly, how superficial is that? Of course, maybe that is the point. People choose chocolate because, even though it is difficult to give up something we love so much, it is really easy. We don’t have to face doing something that might really be a sacrifice… something that might really help us to face our sins or get us closer to God.
For several years I have given up listening to the radio during Lent. I would check into the news in the morning and at noon, but then shut it off. This was really hard at first because I enjoy it. Over time though, I got over my discomfort and looked forward to the time of silence, and it encouraged me to talk to God, if only to break the silence. This has helped me a lot and has spilled over into the rest of the year. I’m not at all hesitant to bring on the silence and it helps me focus on whatever I’m doing.
Now that silence is easy, I need to move onto something else that will not only be a sacrifice but also help me to grow. Some choose something that is not actually a sacrifice but an addition to their life, like spiritual reading or praying the Liturgy of the Hours, but those are easy for me and I enjoy them. Others commit to daily Mass or weekly adoration. Daily Mass is not possible for me at this time in my life because of scheduling conflicts. Weekly adoration is more something I want to do all year round, and I have been lax for quite awhile. So while I will do that, it is not really a sacrifice.
This year, I have chosen to do something really hard and I’m not sure I’ll be able to pull it off, but it requires great generosity and patience on my part and I’m sure many graces from the Holy Spirit. I’m going to try to tolerate interruptions without a poor attitude. Part of this requires me to really pay attention to my kids. What you say? Pay attention to your kids? Suck up interruptions? Yep. Sounds easy to you? Good for you, but it is hard for me.
I hate to be interrupted. Just when I get on a roll with something, boom…”Mom, I’m hungry!” “Mom, come look at this!” “Mom, I need help in the bathroom.” “Mom, I need to you watch me – I’m going outside.” “Mom, What are we going to have for dinner?” Can’t you hear the heavy sigh?
Well….so can I. And I don’t like it. I don’t like my attitude – the heavy sigh, the occasional eye roll, the annoyed voice, “What do you need now?” “Go away, I’m trying to do something right now.” “NOW what?” What it shows to me is that I have a lack of generosity, a self-centeredness, an impatience that is deeply ingrained. So what is that Pride? I don’t know, but I don’t like it.
I’m sure you are like so many of my friends. “What do you need sweetie?” “Oh here, let me help you?” “Sure I’ll watch you outside.” “Let me get the popcorn, we’ll watch the movie together.” “OK honey, let’s go to the park and kick a ball around.” Yuck. The last place I want to be is the park or the ball field. I don’t want to watch another children’s TV show. I want them in the back yard so I don’t have to worry about cars or child abduction. But unfortunately, bikes only get ridden in the front yard. I’m sure you enjoy all those things, but to me they are an annoyance, something that I’m forced to do, and that keeps me from doing the stuff I want to do – inside – like cook dinner or OK, I’ll admit it – be on the computer. So, I’ve decided that I want to work on this during Lent, and that will be a real sacrifice – and a real learning opportunity.
So what do you want to give up for Lent? What do you think you need to work on to improve you and your relationship with God. If you need some sort of help with ideas, check out:
Great Ideas for Lent from the St. Michael Society: Need some ideas for Lent? We’ve got a few.
I found this to be very challenging and helpful: Giving Up Something for Lent — What the Denial of Self Really Involves It was written by Dr. Richard P. Bucher, a Lutheran minister in Kentucky.
Here are a couple of more articles about preparing for Lent and Mortification:
How Can I Better Prepare for Lent This Year?
Lent and Mortification – What is Mortification Anyway?
I’d really like to hear what you are planning on doing this Lent.