I was caught by surprise at how quickly the Super Bowl came around and then it was immediately followed by Fat Tuesday. Quite the busy weekend for New Orleans! For many, the string of events might stop there, but Fat Tuesday is simply the beginning of a whole new season. The season of Lent.
I grew up attending Catholic church and even went through the Catholic school system, so the biblical details of Lent are more ingrained in me than most people. Our culture has publicly celebrated Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras as another national holiday and, whether one realizes it or not, the indulgence in opulence is not without reason. The concept of Fat Tuesday is to relish in things that one might soon be sacrificing throughout the season of Lent leading to Easter Sunday.
So now, back to Super Bowl Sunday. I knew that in the days ahead I needed to identify what it was that I planned to give up for Lent. Last year, I gave up Facebook for the period of Lent since I am easily distracted while on Facebook and can suddenly have hours pass me by before I decide to return to my real life. I needed a fresh idea, though, so I considered other indulgences for sacrifice this year such as cookies, swearing or soda. The thing is, I don't really indulge in much of those items anyways, so the sacrifice seemed too easy and a bit of cheating since this is meant to be a period of intentional lifestyle modification.
Then a couple of weeks into February, I unintentionally stumbled across my answer. It was during a period where I found myself frustrated and wrestling with various relationships in my life because I felt disconnected and disengaged from many of the people I care about. I wanted to place blame somewhere, but all I could come up with was that I've been "busy." I shared this with a dear friend of mine and he looked at me quizzically, then simply stated, "So slow down." It was truly an Aha! moment.
Life is full of demands for our time and attention. Work needs longer hours, your marriage or relationship needs time and attention, so do the kids and your friends. The To-Do list is growing longer by the second and all we can often do is react.
Just stop and breathe. Look at the demands at hand and prioritize. We can't be everything to everyone and the best we can do is follow our heart and be true to ourselves in how we spend our time. After all, at the end of the day, it is our conscience that speaks to us with the loudest voice.
I am giving up the word "busy" for Lent because I hate the guilt that comes with disappointing my closest relationships, and myself, when I don't make the time for things that matter. My friend was right, I do need to slow down. I also need to realize that how I spend my time is my choice. So, how will you choose to spend the Lent season? Will you give anything up? You're welcome to share in mine, but be warned, giving up this four-letter word is not easy.
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