I know that Lent is almost upon us because today my Michigan friends were posting pictures of paczkis on Facebook. And yes I had to look up how to spell that word. Growing up Baptist Lent was not something I observed or practiced or even knew anything about. Once my world expanded a little bit and I started having friends who observed Lent they almost always gave up something like chocolates or sweets which I always thought kind of missed the point (spoiler alert: it did). One year I did participate in Lent in the traditional way of giving something up. I realized I was spending a lot of money on fast food and so decided to give up fast food for 40 days.
At the time I was attending Cedarville University and working in a daycare in the nearby city of Springfield. Every day I would drive past Arby’s, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, and McDonalds on my way to and from work. Every. Day. Which is why I was spending so much money on fast food! Because it was right there! And so tasty! But I actually did give it up for 40 days. And not just to save some money (and therefore be able to give it away or spend it more responsibly), but it was also to teach myself a little discipline. To practice self control.
Two of my very good friends, Erin and Kelsey, left this morning from the DR where they had been visiting me for the past few days. We’ve known each other for SIXTEEN YEARS which is bananas because we’re not even old and back when we had only known each other for four or five years our Bible Study leader (who is a saint) got us all fruit of the Spirit bracelets. Or we bought them together. Or we made them at a sleepover. Or something.
Kelsey’s fruit of the spirit bracelet was “self control.” One evening at youth group her bracelet broke in the hallway and the little beads that spelled out “self control” went everywhere. We cracked ourselves up saying that, “Kelsey lost her self control all over the hallway!”
That story doesn’t really have anything to do with anything except for the fact that I need a little more self control. At this time in developed countries convenience is king. Fast food, for example. High speed internet. Instant streaming. We can get everything and anything we want right now. Which is nice. Convenience is great. But it can lead to feelings of entitlement and an underdeveloped patience. I am already naturally inclined towards lots of entitlement and tiny bits of patience, so self control is important for me.
Last year instead of giving something up for Lent I decided to start a new practice. I rededicated myself to a daily yoga practice. It was a great success. I highly recommend a daily yoga practice. And while I would love to repeat that Lenten practice, and while I hate using “I have no time” as an excuse, my life and my days honestly feel so full that I don’t think I can squeeze another thing in there without losing my dang mind.
So today I’m reflecting on the fullness of my life and which aspects of my life I could spend less money or time on. My life is full, but in the time I do have (aka the time I am not managing the hostel) I am working to cultivate the relationships in my life; to learn more about the world around me (and the world far away from me) through videos, articles, and novels; to take time to rest as often as possible; and to pursue the desire that I have to write, write, write.
But you know what I suck at lately? Prayer.
I’ve been doing a daily verse writing schedule for the month of February and I really like it. I don’t like it for every day of the year but I like mixing it up. When I’m not doing a Scripture writing schedule I’m usually reading through books of the Bible 4 chapters at a time. I read it, underline, take notes, and then say a quick prayer of thanks for what I learned. I want to cultivate in my life the habit of prayer. And since I am a writer (although you wouldn’t know it around here – as I post my first blog post of February on the very last day of the month) I think the best way to do that is to write my prayers.
I know a prayer journal is nothing new. I’m not reinventing the wheel. This year, during the season of Lent, I want to center my heart and my mind on the things of Jesus. I want to praise Him and I want to petition Him. I want to grow closer to Him through this season.
So that’s it. Nothing fancy. No reading plan or daily devotional or app. I’m going to read through the book of Joshua because that’s the book we’re studying in my Bible Study and every day I am going to commit to 10 minutes – just 10 minutes! – of writing my prayers. Every Sunday I will share snippets here.
I hope you commit to something during this season. Even if you’re not Catholic (I’m not) and even if you’re not religious, it’s never a bad time to recommit yourself, to refocus, to evaluate your life and be intentional about how you spend your time.
What are you focusing on?