Wednesday, March 9, 2011
A Show of Hands
I grew up Southern Baptist and I don't know if it was that or my particular church or the area I lived in, but I had no idea that Lent existed until I went to college. I went to a small midwestern Mennonite school and everyone there did Lent. Religiously. (See what I did there? Oh, not funny... Moving on.)
In any case, most of the Lenten sacrifices were what you would imagine college kids to give up: chocolate, coffee, peanut butter (okay, that one's weird). I participated most year, even though I didn't do the whole ashy cross thing. I never understood if you had to do one to do the other, but I just did my own thing.
I'm pretty sure that one year I gave up caffeine and nearly chewed off my own arm. I had limited success with Lent and like a yo-yo dieter, I usually gave up after my first catastrophic failure.
Then, I moved back to the South and didn't do Lent for a few years, in fact, was only vaguely aware that it was that time. Actually, what Lent typically signals to me is that it's time to do some serious Easter shopping. We require dresses, hats, tights and shoes and depending on the ensemble, perhaps a nice white cardi and I'm still trying to talk those girls into gloves. Then, there's always the Easter Bunny. He has to shop, too.
Last year, I joined in an online Lent discussion and decided to give up anger. It wasn't that I expected to not get angry at all for that vast expanse of time, but that I tried really hard, harder than normal, to control my Scarlet O'Hara temper. Perhaps it would be better to say that I gave up rage, but that doesn't sound very ladylike.
In any case, I did pretty well with it. If I remember correctly, I really only went completely off the handle a couple of times. I thought about doing that again, because I've clearly fallen right back into my old habits, but since I spent the better part of the morning furious with my husband, I thought perhaps next year.
Yesterday, I heard someone say they were giving up stress for Lent and that sounds good, but my self-control is not nearly that good. I also considered giving up yelling (trust me, my grandma can take people out with her whisper voice and I could probably channel that), worrying, fast food and caffeine (again).
But here it is, Ash Wednesday, and I still haven't settled on anything yet. What I want in my life is more peace, more acceptance, more zen. I used to be zen, you know. Then I turned into a control freak worrywart. I still wonder if I can get it back and what I would need to do to get there. I think that's what I'll do for Lent. I will try to give up all the things between me and zen, between me and peace. I'm pretty sure I won't get all the way back between now and Easter, especially if my girls forego the gloves again, but I'll try all the same.
What about you? What are you giving up for Lent?