Thursday, February 26, 2015

Allie Pleiter on Giving Things Up for Lent

Many people give up things in Lent.  It's a time of pairing down, of simplifying, of making room so that the wonders and victory of Easter have space to show up in our lives.

There was a time when I gave up the usual luxuries--sweets, spending, etc--but in the past years I've focused my lenten “giving up" on something a little less tangible.  For the past four years, it's been the same thing:  I've tried to give up complaining, judging, and negativity in my life in preparation for the Easter season.

I don't do it over and over because it's powerful or effective.  I repeat it because it hasn't yet worked. 

Every year I try it, and every year I fail.  I've used prayer, visualization, post-it notes, and hourly reminders on my cell phone. One year I even wrote a minus sign--the universal symbol for “negative”—with one of those “NO” circles with the diagonal slash through it on the back of my palm every day.  I figured not only would I see it all the time, but when people asked me what the odd symbol on my hand was, I'd have to explain it to them and it would be an additional reminder.

Nope.  Didn't work.  I can still gripe with the best of them, no matter my good intentions.

It's our human nature--we're quick to proclaim what's wrong and slow with valuable praise.

You would think 2010--the year where we spent Lent shepherding our son through a cancer diagnosis and the related chemotherapy--would help me remember to value what's good in life.  In that year everything pared down to the bare essentials and the fostering of hope wasn't just a personal development ideal, it was a survival skill.  We spent Easter weekend that year in such a drastic battle for his survival that it was two years before I could manage to celebrate Easter at all.  I still can't quite drag myself to a Good Friday service.

There I go again, focusing on the negative.  It makes no sense.  Easter is about life, rebirth, salvation.  We’ve got a wonderfully healthy, fully recovered boy and a happy family this year, and I should reinvigorate my positivity goals. 

I figure I'll have to keep at this until I get it right—I may be drawing on my hand for a few more years.

How about you?  Have you given up anything for the Lenten Season?  Is it the same thing as years past or something new?


Jennifer said...

I try very hard not to be critical of others when I'm out driving, it hasn't worked. Praying for help is what I need constantly.

Allie Pleiter said...

I hear you, Jennifer! I have a friend who struggles so much with this she won't put one of those icthus fish symbols on her car for fear of a bad witness 😏