Lent began last Wednesday, and as many of you know (or can imagine) this period of self-reflection is my favorite time of the year, liturgical or otherwise. Unlike years past, I haven’t discussed what I will be giving up for Lent. I had good reason: I couldn’t decide. I’m not even trying to be funny, I swear.
I won’t go through all the Lenten promises I considered. There are many and all had promise, but I didn’t get that feeling in my gut that tells me I am on the right path. I’m an over-thinker by nature, so my gut never gets to say much more than, “You overdid it with the dairy,” or, “Don’t read in a moving car, especially without your glasses.” Every now and then, though, I can count on it to scream louder than the thoughts in my head. In fact, it’s when the thoughts in my head skitter to a stop that I know I’ve hit upon a good idea.
The other day I made a few self-deprecating comments in a post and a reader chided me for it later on Facebook. I realized immediately she was right and edited the post. Then I turned her words around in my head for a few days until they turned into a promise, shiny and smooth.
This year for Lent I will give up the negative self-talk and take on a more forgiving, gentle attitude towards myself. I am very good at restrictions and rules and challenges. I excel at trying to excel. I’m not so good at just being okay.
Lent is about conversion, turning our lives more completely over to Christ and his way of life. That always involves giving up sin in some form. The goal is not just to abstain from sin for the duration of Lent but to root sin out of our lives forever. Conversion means leaving behind an old way of living and acting in order to embrace new life in Christ. For catechumens, Lent is a period intended to bring their initial conversion to completion. Catholic.org
I’m not giving up flour, or sugar, or meat, or blogs, or media. Instead, I’m hoping to gain a new perspective, form new habits, and treat myself the way I want my sons to treat themselves. Jesus would approve.
p.s. I twice caught myself on Saturday practicing negative self talk (once I poked fun at the socks I was wearing and the other time I joked that my nose looked a pencil fresh out of the sharpener). I see this will be a challenging Lenten season, but one that will come with great reward.