On Ash Wednesday last year, my parish priest, Fr. John, gave a homily that has really stuck with me. It essentially boils down to challenging the traditional approach to the 40 days of Lent and turning it on its head. In giving things up, we can sometimes end up inflating our ego and pride by pointing to how disciplined we are to avoid chocolate; what a martyr we are to forgo coffee. While giving up checking Facebook or desserts after a meal at least alludes to the spirit of penance as Jesus did by fasting for 40 days (seems like a tenuous parallel when it's written down, doesn't it?), aren't there ways that you can give of yourself that in turn demonstrate your love for others?
This year, in the 40 days of Lent and hopefully beyond, I plan to:
- Give more help to my husband. I will fold more clothes; do more dishes; make more PB&J sandwiches for lunch boxes.
- Give more time to my children. I will spend 1:1 time with them in the evenings after work; I will read a book before bed even if it's after 8PM; I will put down my iPad and listen with my full attention when they want to show me their Lego creation or winning move at checkers.
- Give more kindness to my co-workers. When things aren't going well, or someone at HQ does something I disagree with, I will bite my tongue; I will assume positive intent; and I will find the opportunity in the midst of irritation.