Saturday, February 24, 2018

Enough Lenten Practices

I made a "to do" list last night that, even though it was on paper, made me want to add #winningatlife.

1) Call my parents
2) Sleep in
3) Wash sheets

Any time you can convince yourself that "sleeping in" is an appropriate item on your to do list, you're doing something very right, IMHO.

It's not that I'm caught up on everything that I could or should be doing, it's just that my normal routine is off while I'm still trying not to let my latest allergy issues run away with me, so sleeping in becomes a real priority. Luckily, for me, "sleeping in" merely means waking up without an alarm and feeling well-rested, because I still woke up insanely early, but I was truly awake and ready to go. My sheets are currently in the dryer. I haven't had breakfast yet, so I won't call my parents on an empty stomach, but that will happen today. I think this list is going to get done.

I started writing my to do lists this way last year. I'm pretty sure I was introduced to this concept by Joshua Becker at "Becoming Minimalist". It's called an "Enough List". It's not all of the things that I need to do in a day, it's the 3 things that most need to be done today, the things that will make me feel the most relaxed, the things that are most weighing on me, the things with some kind of a deadline. Only 3 things are on the list. Sometimes it feels like it absolutely has to be 5 things, so it's interesting to have to narrow it down to 3. I love it, though. Three things are doable. Three things allows me to focus instead of crazily running around trying to get to all of the things that I feel like I could or should be doing. When I am focused on those big ticket things for the day, there is suddenly room for the other things to fit into the margins. Not everything, but many other important things. Instead of feeling like a failure for not getting to everything, now any extra thing that gets done makes me feel like I am ahead of the game. In short, I love "Enough Lists".

Wouldn't you know that I planned my Lent like my old "to do" lists. The thought process went something like this: "I'm going to give up this thing. Ooh, and actually, I'm going to also give up that on Fridays. And Mondays and Wednesdays. And I'm going to make time to go do this and this, and also that." Etc. It was a messy jumble of stuff.

A wise commenter on my last post pointed out that these Lenten practices, or exercises, should be treated like physical exercises. If what you're doing isn't working, sometimes it's because it's not the right thing for you right now. So I guess I need an "Enough List" for Lent. Given that we are reminded about prayer, fasting, and almsgiving this time of year, it seems like there are some convenient categories for my three things. Because I still feel like there should be 5 or 7 things, it feels like a bit of a cop out to only focus on three, but the point is, I can actually focus on them. That means that I can make sure they get done. The last day or so is already going so much better.

Enough List for Lent:

1) Pray evening prayer
2) No TV after 5 pm
3) Use some of my discretionary money for people in need

In theory, I like elaborate Lenten practices that really make me dig in and show my Lenten prowess. The reality is that often we're far better off to do some small things well. (That's not always true. Sometimes God has something big that He wants us to do, to rely on Him in a deeper way.) For me, this year, I think it's safe to say that there may be a little pride involved when I want to doallthegoodthingsrightnow. This "Enough List" is my reminder that maybe this Lent is not about me doing all the things, it's about clearing a bit of space for God to do His work in me.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

A Not So Perfect Lent

Well, my Lent is off to a shaky start, how's yours going?

Actually, it started out great on Ash Wednesday. I made it to Mass for the first time in a couple of years because normally my work schedule really conflicts with Mass times. But then it's been down hill from there. I want to cut back on my TV time in the evening, but have been watching a fair amount of Olympics. I want to be a little hungry (not eat quite as much), but I've been sick and have just not worried about it. I also want to try to get to daily Mass at least once a week, and this morning was the time to go... And I was in bed when Mass started. It's true that I'm still not feeling 100%, but I'm a lot better today, and sometimes I wonder how much of it is simply compromising. Since I try not to overload with things to do during Lent, I'm kind of shooting 0/fer.

I don't want to excuse myself too much (and I'm okay with the food thing; it is different when you're sick), but I also don't want to worry about it too much. I don't know what the right response is, because it is easy both to be too lenient and to be too harsh when judging how we're doing with these things.

The funny thing is, there was a time where I would have been frustrated that I had already "ruined" my Lent. There is nothing ruined here. Lent is about growing and learning and turning back to God. Funny how God can take the very failures and make them exactly into the perfect Lenten experience to foster that growth and return. I may not do Lent perfectly, but He does.

Seriously, how is your Lent going?