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.