Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Flunking Lent

I'm think I am flunking Lent. I know I am not Catholic, so I'm not as versed as I probably should be in proper Lent practices, but I'm pretty certain if you can flunk Lent, then I'm doing it. That is hard to admit for someone who generally got A's &  and a few B's in school. (We aren't counting my statistics class.)

It all seemed so simple on Ash Wednesday. I knew Lent was approaching - we'd been talking about it in church. My church actually holds TWO Ash Wednesday services - one at noon and one in the evening on Ash Wednesday. If it is worth two services in the same day for a kick-off - then Lent MUST be important, right? I had even discussed with my two daughters about what they had thought about giving up during Lent. Chocolate and Candy were at the top of their lists.

I really wanted to do something meaningful. Something that could give this Lenten season even more significance. After all - part of the point of doing something/giving something up during Lent is to make it different from the rest of the year. As Christians we are approaching Easter. And it only seems right that we give this season the special attention it deserves. I have some friends who don't want to "institutionalize" their faith, so they refuse to give up or do anything different during Lent. I kind of feel sorry for them. I think it is good for me to, at least once a year, intentionally be reminded of what Christ did for me back on the cross. So, I figured that whatever I chose had to be something that would not be easy for me.

After much consideration I decided to try some obedience in an area of my life that needs great improvement. The particular area I decided to focus on during Lent is how I handle my personal paperwork. You know, the mail that comes in every day, bills that have to be paid, the constant never ending stream of notes that come home from my daughters' teachers, and the like. My "old method" was the "Let's pile them on a corner of the dining table until the stack topples over and spills all over the floor and we scoop up the stack and hide it in the bedroom" method. At least I always knew that if I needed to find a piece of paper it was either on the table or in the stack in my room. For Lent I was going to dedicate 15 minutes a day, 6 days a week, to dealing with these papers.

Week one: I started off with much zeal and many good intentions.  I loved looking at my dining room table and NOT seeing the usual stack of papers. This was going to be much easier than I thought.

Week two: I realized that I had skipped two days of handling paperwork and there was a small stack beginning to take root. I quickly dealt with it and vowed to be better in the future.

Week three: Rough week. Maybe tackled the papers twice this week.

Week four: It has been exactly four weeks since Ash Wednesday and when I stumbled out into my kitchen to start the coffee a growing pile of papers was on the table this morning mocking me. I kid you not - they were mocking me. DARING me to try and move them from the table - and not just into the bedroom. I wondered if my friends who won't "institutionalize" Lent may be smarter than I was giving them credit for. Briefly I fantasized about throwing the entire stack into the garbage or better yet - setting it on fire and roasting marshmallows. But the thought that somewhere in that stack was a permission slip I needed to sign and send back to school with my daughter stopped me. I didn't want to have to ask (again) for another slip from her teacher. Instead, I sorted through the stack, threw away the junk mail, found the confounded permission slip, signed it, put it into said daughter's back-pack, and set the bills aside to be paid. All in all - it took less than 15 minutes.

It was then that a ray of hope began to break through the black cloud that had been forming over my head after the first mocking taunts from the now non-existent pile of papers. Not one slip had ended up in my bedroom! And, thinking back to the past four weeks I realized that the pile in the bedroom has been slowly dwindling even with my sporadic filing because just the daily influx of papers doesn't take up my entire 15 minutes of filing. And-there are still two weeks of Lent left!! Maybe, just maybe, with God's help, by the time Lent is over I will have managed to develop the good habit of handling my papers in a more timely manner than when I started. And considering how difficult it is for me to make this change in my life I'll be ecstatic if I get a "C" for Lent this year. Just like I was ecstatic for a C in that statistics class in college. (The 2nd time I took it.)
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