“I didn’t fail the test… I just found 100 ways to do it wrong” –benjamin franklin

Lenten Rose Helleborus orientalis or Helleboru...

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I haven’t posted in 4 days, and that’s kind of embarrassing considering I told y’all that I would post every day as per my Lenten promise.

I also told you that I would keep silence in the car and bus and allow God to speak to me through it rather than getting distracted from the radio, and I haven’t been doing so great at that, either.  In fact… to make up for my general bad Catholicness, I just grabbed a fistful of change to put in my Operation Rice Bowl box.

This post was going to be something different… but I like the direction its going, so let’s keep on that path, shall we?

I used to be really great at keeping promises.  I used to be able to set goals for myself, work hard, and then achieve them.  In junior high I gave up chocolate for Lent.  I had so much will power back then.  I even lost at least 10 pounds because the lack of chocolate led to healthier food choices and more exercise.  I used to make Lenten promises that I kept both because I promised God and I feared failure.

So my lack of commitment in keeping my Lenten promises this year means one of two things:

God is no longer important.

I am starting to embrace my failures.

 

It can’t be the first one.  God is very important to me.  A lot of times I don’t feel that burning desire to be closer to him… in fact, a lot of times I don’t even think of him.  I won’t lie.  Sometimes I do give up.  But I always go back.  I always dust myself off.  I always keep God a priority, and if I lose focus, I make sure to put him back where he belongs.

But that second one… the part about embracing failures…  I think therein lies a sneaky lesson God planned for me this Lenten season.

You see… I may be messy and laid back… but I am a closet perfectionist.  I can’t stand being wrong, I can’t stand being second best, and I can’t stand being short of my very best.  These aren’t bad things all the time.. but sometimes I obsess over it so much that if I am wrong, or if I am not the best or my best… I feel like a pathetic excuse for a human being.

But this Lent, I am embracing my failures. I am embracing those moments where I stumble and I am messy.  I learned that too much silence is not good for me, and so I adjust and listen to Christian radio when I am finding the silence too overwhelming.  I learned that I don’t want to just update my blog with mindless things or short things for the sake of getting something in every day… I’d rather mull over ideas and save them for later.

I am learning that I can promise God one thing… and God can take that promise and do something else with it.

I can tell you lots of times I’ve been uplifted just by listening to Christian radio in the car this Lenten season instead of mindlessly driving in silence, or the times where I may have skipped blogging to have a good conversation with a friend or pay attention to my body’s need for rest.

What I can see in my eyes as a failure can be seen as a whole-hearted effort to be open to God’s movement in a different direction.

So maybe I fail.  Maybe I don’t keep my promises all the time.  Maybe I struggle and I am messy.  But by embracing these shortcomings, I am learning how to forgive myself, and I am learning how to love myself the way God loves me… and what could be a better lesson to learn in preparation for the resurrection of the Lord?

Nice ash. ;o)

Ashes imposed on the forehead of a Christian o...

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Today is a great day because I was able to go around and tell everyone how nice their ash was. 🙂

I was kind of disappointed with the outcome of my ash, because I will never forget the epic ash I got a couple years ago from a friend in college who made it take up my entire forehead… but then I looked a little closer and noticed that it kind of looks like a heart, and that’s cute, right? Right.

Anyway.  Today I am thankful for kids. Kids are awesome. For example, the kids behind me at Mass today kept saying very loudly how bad they needed to pee.  The kids on my bus kept telling me how awful the sub bus driver was yesterday and how much they missed me.  One of my girls actually gave me a hug and told me to never ever ever leave her ever again.

Kids know exactly how to just be themselves and to love completely.  Or sort of completely.  At least when they are younger.  Older kids maybe not so much. But little kids? They can’t help it.

Anyway. Kids. Today I am thankful for kids.

Mardi Gras… womp womp.

The Resurrection from Grünewald's Isenheim Alt...

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So, whatcha doin for Lent?

That’s been a pretty standard question I’ve been asking many of my Catholic friends in the past couple days.  Whatcha doin for Lent? Because ready or not kids, it’s that time of year again… the time when the deadness of winter disappears and spring breathes new life into the northern hemisphere, and we Catholics acknowledge this paschal mystery in our 40 day journey toward the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I have a lot of things that I do not like about being Catholic, but one thing I do like is the 40-day Spiritual Olympics we call Lent.  It’s glorious.  It makes Easter more about the fact that Jesus saved our sorry behinds that one fateful day 1978 years ago (right? Am I embarrassing myself with my poor math skills?), and less about that fluffy bunny that bounces around and gives us chocolate and/or money (seriously. where did we get the Easter bunny from, anyway?).  Lent forces us to step outside of ourselves and figure out what is really important… like forgiving those who have hurt us (yikes), forgiving ourselves for hurting others (yikes yikes), and finding hope in all the shit we find ourselves knee-deep in.  I would hate to not be Catholic during this time… because we Catholics got it goin ON.  We are so hardcore.  We give up chocolate/coffee/TV/etc like a BOSS.  We torture ourselves for 40 days for the LORD.  And then, on that 41st day, we celebrate. We know what it’s like to lose something and then get it back.  Just like the disciples obviously felt when they lost Jesus and then found Him again.  We tapped into that like a maple tree.

Our 40-day Spiritual Olympics is obviously more than just suffering.  We fast in order to grow closer to God, we pray, and we give alms.  We live the paschal mystery every day in preparation for the actual death and resurrection of Christ.  We live, we die, we rise again.  We pray, we fast, we give back.  It’s beauteous.

So what are you doing for Lent?

What am I doing for Lent?  At the risk of sounding like I am broadcasting my Lenten promise for the soul purpose of getting everyone to think I’m this overly-pious weirdo, I am going to tell you because I am probably going to need someone to hold me accountable.

First, I am giving up listening to music in the car.  The only reason I will listen to music in the car is if I am not the driver… because well, that’s fair.  But I realize that between driving a bus and driving to and from the bus garage, I spend a lot of time driving around with the radio cranked, and that time could be used to grow closer to God. So. Silence it is.

Secondly, I am going to add a new blog post every day.  Writing has always been something thats made me feel connected to God, and I should do more of it.  At the very least, I want to post something I am thankful for every day.  The more the better.  But every day. I am horrible at these “every day” projects.   But now that I have said it… hopefully I won’t make myself feel like an idiot because I don’t post. So. Every day you can expect something from me. Even if it’s just a sentence.  A beautifully well-written sentence, of course.

Thirdly, I picked up an Operation Rice Bowl at church to start putting my spare change in to feed the starving children in Africa, or wherever the heck it’s going to go to.  That’s all I have to say for that. Pretty self explanatory.

 

Cool. So those are my Lenten promises… all out there for the internet world to read.  See ya tomorrow!