I’m relatively new to the practice of Lent, and it’s certainly been a learning experience. This year I’ve been thinking about what I might give up for Lent. Having just come off of a sugar fast, I’ll admit that I don’t particularly want to give up sweets.
I’ve spent the last year putting off doing several things that I claimed were high priorities for me. I’ve been wanting to get my second book edited and launched and develop a daily writing habit. But the truth is, I haven’t done very much work on either one.
I could tell you about how it’s been a weird year for my family. Between job transition, then job loss, new health and psychological diagnosis and mental health issues and financial strain.
Those are all good reasons. But they also aren’t really why I don’t get stuff done.
I make excuses. We all do it, we have goals we set for ourselves, but as the saying goes, a goal without a plan is just a wish. I’m great at talking about things I’d like to accomplish but I’m less successful at creating the habits that are needed to see those goals come to fruition.
So this year for Lent, what if I gave up my excuses? Like the fact that my kids are loud and as homeschoolers, they are always here. That some weeks I can barely keep my head on straight and I can’t imagine being able to also do the hard work of being creative.
But the truth is, I’m not just talking about the creative life, though that is a big thing. What if I stopped making excuses in my relationships too? To say yes to the girls night out, my kids asking me to play with them or my husband’s romantic overtures.
To say yes, when I want to say no because no feels easier and safer.
But also know that just willpower alone isn’t enough, I need some kind of toolbox for getting myself through the next forty days of giving up excuses.
Anticipate the barriers
I know I will be interrupted. This can’t be a reason. I know I won’t have extended periods to work. This can’t get in the way anymore. Kids will get sick, I will stay up too late and part of me will always choose Netflix over doing the beautiful and hard work for creativity and life. If I recognize that there will be barriers, I can stop feeling bitter when they happen and workout around and through them instead.
Just Do It
Ok, I kind of stole that one from Nike. But in all seriousness, sometimes I just have to use the moment I have. Even if it’s noisy, even if I only have five minutes, even if the work I produce isn’t gorgeous or inspired but it moves me forward. Sometimes you just have to get it written in all its ugly, messy glory and know that it represents progress.
I have a hard time acknowledging all that I’ve already accomplished because I get caught up in all that I should be doing. I look at all the work I might have completed if I had gotten my act together months or years ago and I completely miss the beauty of what I have done. If frustration pushed me to do better, that’s great. But that isn’t usually the case. More often I use my past apparent failure as a reason to stop trying. So instead I’m going to look at my work as proof that I can do more and do better moving forward.
Do you celebrate Lent? What kind of things do you do or not do during this time of year?