Thursday, March 21, 2013

The kind of explanation behind this whole Lenten Adventure

At the risk of sounding like I'm complaining (I'm not, I promise, just stating the facts), this Lenten Adventure thing has become quite the challenge.

At first it was fun. Fun to draw a slip of paper every day. Fun to challenge myself with giving up things I rely on for comfort or adding in things that will stretch me as a person. And then it started becoming exhausting trying to remember what I could or couldn't do. Justifying to myself why I ate pizza during a girls night I hosted when I had given up cheese. Trying to rationalize with myself as I contemplated riding my bike to work in the freezing temperatures (and in the dark).

But there have been some really pleasant surprises, too. The single most surprising thing to me is that this adventure is more than halfway over and I still haven't had to give up alcohol. I thought surely it'd be the first to go. I'm also surprised at how much I have enjoyed adding church back into my weekly routine. There was a time in the not so distant past that I was a regular 5pm mass attendee. But like other things, it was an easy thing to skip under the pressure of other commitments, and all the sudden I just wasn't going anymore. But now I am, and if I take nothing else away from this experience, I will be thankful that I have rediscovered something that has always been important to me.

It's not easy for me to talk about religion or spirituality. In fact, if you haven't noticed, in discussing this entire Lenten promise, I have avoided the real reason behind it. I think in part it's because I wasn't quite sure myself, and in part it's because I've never been one who is comfortable talking about my faith. I shouldn't say never, because there was that time when I was 18 and stood up in front of 500 strangers to talk about my personal faith journey... but that was a long time ago. Anyway, I digress. My purpose in starting this was to push myself back into a religion that I actually feel pretty strongly about. To force myself out of my comfort zones and into a stronger, deeper relationship with a God I believe in.

The best part is Lent isn't even over yet. I haven't been perfect in all of this, but the further down this path I get, the more I realize that wasn't actually my ultimate goal. My goal was to push myself away from 'earthly' comforts and towards the comfort that can only be found faith and belief. So am I running 2 miles every day? Nope. But have I shut off the TV every night and instead journaled for 10 minutes, focusing my thoughts and intentions on how I can be better, do better, live better? Yup.

And I've stopped using my cell phone while I wait so I can instead take in my surroundings and experience things like striking up conversations with the security in my building, only to find out that one of them works a double shift every Friday just so he can spend all day Saturday with his son. I never would have found that out, or would have appreciated him as much, had I been head down in a game of Fruit Ninja or whatever.

I feel more alert, more aware, and more in control of my path than I have in a long time. All this to say, I encourage all of you to make a concerted effort to find and be the BEST you that you can be. Even though the best me will always be a work in progress, it feels really great to be taking steps forward instead of standing still.

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