My First Lent – Day 25 – Spiritual Disciplines

monk

When New Years rolled around, I told myself that 2015 would be the year that I wrote on a regular basis.

So, between January 1st and February 15th, I wrote exactly 9 times. 46 days and I wrote something 9 times. Not very regular. As usual, a New Years resolution that failed to see success, right?

So, when listening to the pastor at the church we visited in early February give a message on preparing for Lent, I was struck by something he said. He challenged those of us in the room to not just think of something to give up for Lent, but instead, think of something we could take on that would benefit our spiritual lives or those around us.

That challenge struck me and immediately I felt the nudge, that small, quiet voice saying, “Write. Each day of Lent, write.”

I’ve struggled mightily the last few years with feelings of self worth. And when it comes to writing, especially blogging, I often sit and wonder, why would anyone read what I have to say? Isn’t it a bit narcissistic to think people might value my thoughts and opinions? There is no magical formula or scientific method to writing good prose, so I might fall flat on my face. I don’t paint beautiful word pictures like my favorite authors do. And I’ll probably just quit anyway when things get busy…

For someone who tends to think she’s a positive person, my self-reflective thoughts don’t always support that supposition. Probably why I have my therapist near the top of my contact list. I think it goes husband, mother, best friend, favorite pizza delivery joint, and then my therapist.

Anyway, today is day 25 and here I am writing. Some days I write several entries and thanks to the magic of WordPress, I queue a few up and can deal with the busyness of life. Other days, I find time to write mid afternoon while my kids are playing with their neighborhood friends. My favorite times are when I steal away to my favorite coffee shop, plug in my headphones, and drink a cup or two of their very smooth brew while transferring thought to screen. Yet, many times, I get something written in the nick of time, late at night after the children are in bed.

But no matter how I’ve done it, it’s become a part of the daily life. A spiritual discipline of sorts. A small offering to God of my time. Instead of binge watching The Blacklist or Parks & Recreation, I’m concentrating a bit more than usual on this season of Lent. Instead of reading the latest Hunger Games knock-off or playing a video game for relaxation, I’m contemplating God’s moving in my life. I’m journaling regularly and scratching down ideas that pop in my head. I even keep a document of writing prompts.I have the rest of this Lenten series planned out for the next twenty days. My mind is in a sense finding a small bit of renewal through this quest for self-discipline. Most importantly, though, I try to listen more to His voice instead of losing it among the regular noises in life.

I think of those individuals, like monks and nuns, committed to God so deeply that they practice disciplines. In fact, these people who commit themselves to rigid self-discipline wear distinctive garments known as a religious habit. The term habit originally meant ‘dress or attire,’ later coming to denote physical or mental constitution (thanks, Google for that etymology). So, a habit is a sign of following one or many of these spiritual disciplines. How would I do with the traditional disciplines?

  • Prayer: I just can’t get up early enough for a regular quiet time. God made me a night owl and sleeping in is part of my natural circadian rhythm. Contemplative prayer is peaceful, but when do I ever have enough quiet in my house to really practice it? And really, I struggle with prayer, remember?
  • Fasting: I’ve never felt led to fast. And when my blood sugar drops, I get shaky and light headed. Did I mention I like bacon way too much?
  • Poverty: Tough one. Definitely a calling and not for the faint of heart. But I am feeling a call to simplicity…
  • Silence: Introverted as I am, I’d go nuts not communicating. I’m an aspiring writer. I enjoy public speaking. I might prefer you text instead of call, but trust me, I do enjoy vocal interaction.
  • Celibacy: well, I’m married and that just isn’t happening. Nope, not at all. Uh, no.

So, the traditional spiritual disciplines aren’t ones I’m particularly gifted for. But the beauty of our creator is that God equips us each differently. And, I’m not saying that my brand new baby steps of disciplining myself to write regularly are leading me to a state of asceticism. But this past month has been really, really good for me.

It takes 21 days to develop a “habit” (see, there’s that word again). And with my new habit, I’ve processed thoughts that have been stewing for way too long, enjoyed the interaction with my 2 readers (okay, I’m kidding, my 5 readers), and honestly at times, wondered, “could I actually do this writing thing, even just semi-professionally?”  I might continue writing for a small audience, or one day, perhaps, I might reach more. I just know that this exercise, this discipline has been good for me. It’s not the traditional lesson of sacrifice during Lent. But I feel this is a lesson God’s been wanting me to learn.

God’s peace to you all!

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