Week 1: Thoughts On Lent

I'm a week into Lent.  I know that's a little strange, but I started Lent early (Sunday, March 3) because I know that the last weekend in the month I will "break" Lent for a social obligation.  So in order to "make up" for that, I start early.

That's a rationalization I know.  Lent isn't SUPPOSED to be about rationalizations or "working around" the system, but I'm going to be honest:  ever since I started the Lenten practice of giving something up I've been rationalizing and working around the system.  My son is the greatest example of this:  he has given up cookies, which means he is downing granola bars, mini muffins, etc.  Not so much of a sacrifice is it?  However, it IS a teen and I'm an adult.  I should know better.

I made a rationalization yesterday, but I also thought about it, which is also part of MY Lenten process.  My true focus in Lent is mindfulness.  Being aware of what I am doing.  Yesterday some friends of ours came to visit.  I was pretty certain they would bring a bottle of wine.  If they DIDN'T I would NOT drink, but I would offer them an adult beverage.  If they DID bring a bottle, I would partake.  I spent time thinking about what I should do and why.  Maybe rationalization was a part of it, but it was only part.  Consideration and thought went into my decision and that's something I need to do with more regularity in my life.

Which brings me to my next "give up" for Lent.  I am TRYING to watch my language.  Specifically I am talking about cursing.  I have noticed that I curse much more than I used to.  I'm not sure why that it?  Perhaps it's just a bad habit that I have fallen into?  Perhaps it is because the words are more socially acceptable?  Whatever the reason, I'm letting words fly out of my mouth that I really shouldn't.  As I have told my son, there IS a time and a place for such language; it should be used appropriately.  I have found myself just letting the words fly without any thought.  That is NOT what I want in my life.

Of course I thought giving up/stopping cursing would be easy.  WRONG!  It's not that it's difficult to do; it's that it REQUIRES mindfulness.  I can't tell you how many times I've slipped up!  The words come out of my mouth before I even realize it.  But as soon as they ARE out of my mouth, I am aware.  That, I think, is a good thing.  So while I am not fulfilling my Lenten promise, I AM catching myself.  I have, on occasion, been able to stop myself.  That's a first step.

I could beat myself up (mentally) for not being able to follow my Lenten promise to the letter, but I think it's better to work towards something that berating myself for missteps.  (At least when it comes to this exercise.)  I need to mentally prepare myself.  I need to get myself into a new habit.  I need to replace my "colorful" vocabulary with other words like:  fudge, shoot, darn and so on. 

 Maybe it sounds silly, but it is not a pointless exercise.  It is a retraining of my thought process.  It is working towards being more mindful when I speak.

It is my hope (my plan?) that as I become more mindful of my words, that I apply this mindfulness not just to "curse words" but to everything.  I hope to train myself to take better care of what I say AND how I say it.  This is a BIG thing for me.  I am very guilty of a sharp tongue.  And although that may be called for sometimes, I KNOW that my tone is sharp much more often than it should be.  It's all a matter of habit and retraining myself/my brain.  It's all a matter of being more mindful.

If in these 6 weeks I can get into the habit of being more mindful of my words, I can carry it on.  It won't just be giving up a few choice words; it will be giving my attention to what I say and how I say it.  If we all could be a bit more mindful, this world would be a KINDER place.


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