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04 March 2011


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The two Lenten practices I've derived the most long-term good from were giving up television and giving up reading fiction.

At the time I gave up television I was in graduate school and living with three roommates, two of whom had the habit of flipping on the television as soon as they came home and leaving it on when they were done watching their program. If there was anyone else in the room when they were done, they'd just walk out of the room. I'd find myself sucked into whatever was on and sit there for hours ostensibly grading papers or making lesson plans or doing my homework but really just wasting time. I'd know I was wasting time but found it nearly impossible to pull myself away. Giving up television for forty days broke me of that inability to say no and in fact gave me a great distaste for having the tv on unless I'm going to watch a particular show. Now I have a much healthier relationship with the tv.

Giving up fiction was a similar story. I was pretty addicted to reading novels. To the point that a good novel would get in the way of my prayer life, of doing my work, of relationships with friends. It was a disordered attachment. I replaced novels with spiritual reading (I did make a little exception in my fast when I caught the flu and spent a week on the couch.I was too sick to be able to focus on the other books I'd been reading so I read through the entire Chronicles of Narnia, figuring that for me they sort of counted as spiritual reading.) That fast has also had long-lasting effects. Ever since, I've been much more aware of what it feels like when I am over-indulging in fiction and need to tweak my literary diet. And I've been much better at regularly incorporating servings of spiritual reading in my usual mix of books.


What perfect timing for me! I was actually just telling my husband last night I think I am going to try to finish, or at least read most of, The Diary of St. Mary Faustina K.

I always give up looking at knitting patterns online -- I love doing it but it takes up so much of my time. And then I actually knit more.

One year, a really good year, I have up gluttony, took up moderation. In practice this meant I gave up seconds and snacking between meals and after dinner. I still struggle with gluttony so I am thinking of doing something along those lines again this year. I pretty much don't have seconds, but I could certainly eliminate all the non-meal time eating.

One year I gave up sloth and took up ... what is the opposite of sloth? Working. Anyway, I cleaned a part of my bathroom each day. I DETEST it; and I failed repeatedly... but I kept trying. Perhaps this year I should do the same. I am horribly inconsistent about cleaning my house so I am thinking about taking up 30 minutes of cleaning each day.

Last advent I gave up wine. That was soooo hard! But my husband is giving it up for Lent, so I think I may join him (sort of goes along with no snacking for me). I have a friend who, like your husband, just gives up wine and chocolate every year, and Wednesdays throughout the entire year.

But one thing I have really been thinking about, and it is sort of hard to share on a public blog (take up too much time, give out too much info that people just don't care about): I have a serious trust issue. I have seen this more and more over the past few months. I do not trust people and I have a hard time trusting God. I typically expect the worst... or rather fear the worst. And I want to work on that for Lent but have no practical ideas for that.


That's really interesting, Delores, that you should mention having a hard time figuring out how to work on "trust" for Lent. I was thinking something similar myself this morning -- one of my biggest spiritual difficulties, or faults if you will, is anxiety. Not like clinical psychiatric anxiety, but just generally worried all the time about not getting my "stuff" taken care of and trying to hyper-control everything. But it's hard to think, "What can I give up that takes me out of that comfort zone?" I need to learn to live in the moment more, to be more flexible, but at the same time one needs to structure one's day, especially when others are depending on that structure.

Giving up some of my "planning time" for adoration might be one small step. The scary thing about adoration for me is that it's time in which nothing "gets done." ;-)


My son has band practice in a larger town about 45 minutes away (Jacksonville, NC). We go there every Monday afternoon. And a while ago I started heading to the local adoration chapel for the first hour of that time (total 2 hour band practice). It was one of the best things I ever started. Oh, I have a ton of errands I could be doing at that time. And afterwards I do head to Sams club and maybe another place for shopping. But I have seen for myself the benefits of the time in adoration. And I have come to crave that time in His presence. Try it -- I think you'll like it.

I have struggled with anxiety a lot over my life. I never thought of the connection, but perhaps that is why I tend to stay busy -- wanting to be busy with things in order that I might not have "time" to focus on other issues (c.f. my earlier post... if I "have" to finish knitting this blanket that excuses me from cleaning the bathroom). I have noted lately how I just look for things to do in order to stay busy and perhaps stay in control.

I am meeting with my spiritual director next Wed and want to talk with him about how to "give up fear" and "take up trust." If he has any insights, I'll share them with you!

BTW: (totally off topic) did I ever tell you I'm from MN? My mom still lives there.

Kim (in IA)

Still thinking about lent plans here but I do have to comment that I appreciate your quote, "It would probably be good for me to give up planning time to God. Theoretically his plans work out better than mine anyway." That just might influence my lent plans.

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