For several years now I’ve thought about practicing Lent. Instead of waiting until it’s already started this year I decided to be proactive. how, exactly, do you even practice it?
I kind of landed on three things I could do to make the season more introspective. Give up something I really love. Don’t eat meat on Fridays, and I joined a woman’s bible study class. The last two things felt easy, I love women’s classes, and narrowing down the menu is just going to make my life easier, but what to give up and why? I wanted it to be about more then just depriving myself. I wanted it to also have a positive purpose. About that time I edited an article for a friend of mine and in the article she talked about how we allow the little time sucks in our life to take precedence over relationships. This really hit home, I’m an introvert so a lot of times it’s easier to watch tv safe and bundled up then it it is to reach out, and it’s easier to spend the ten minutes the roast is finishing up browsing Pinterest then it is making that phone call. This, I realized would be my Lent focus, relationships.
So, come Ash Wednesday Pinterest is taking a hiatus from my phone and I’m giving up my favorite tv show (honestly that last one really hurts, which I guess means it’ll be good for me.) Hopefully giving these two things up will make more space in my life for phone calls, cookies to those who are hurting, and just relationship building in general.
The day after I’d come to this decision (not even Lent yet) I decided to make a call I’d been putting off. Someone I wanted to talk to, but picking up the phone really does make me nervous. Phone call made, and of course it wasn’t bad at all, I patted myself on the back and decided to coast until Lent actually started… Then my neighbor from back in Battle Creek called. So weird that she’d call that day but talking to her was so awesome… Then my friend Megan from Portage called… Then my mother in law called… Okay God your just being silly now.
Then my friend, Emily, across the street tells me that there was an ambulance in my neighbors driveway the night before. I don’t know those neighbors so it feels weird going over there. I don’t want to seem like I’m being snoopy. And they’re a different culture, what if cookies offend them? Yet, isn’t it worse to pretend like we didn’t know something happened? So I make cookies and Emily and I take them over with cards that include our names and phone numbers. No one answers the door, yeah! We leave the cookies and go home. Later in the afternoon when I go to get the mail the grandma is standing in the driveway, and my first instinct is to not make eye contact and go inside, after all I left a note that said they could call me. My brain forces my feet into her drive way. “Are you guys okay?” I ask. And she responds really kindly. Things are fine, her husband is sick, but he has been for a while. Thank you for asking.
Such a simple thing “are you okay?” and I almost didn’t do it. How can the people living next to me know that I really do care if they don’t even know my name, if I can’t even look them in the eye? How can the people in Battle Creek know I miss them if I’m not even brave enough to pick up the phone? How will I ever make stronger relationships if I’d rather fold clothes and watch Supernatural then have coffee with someone I don’t know well?
So, this will be my Lent. And while I didn’t realize it, I’ve stumbled into another area of my life where I must be courageous. And this time the small step is in putting down the remote and picking up the phone.
If you’re interested in checking out my friend’s post it’s here, at Once Upon a Writer. Her prose will leave you breathless and her message will leave you challenged.