Why I Decided to Give Something Up For Lent This Year

I cant believe it’s going to be March already this week! I am definitely ready for spring after the warm weather we had last week. Although it was 30 and snowing again yesterday, I am hoping that will be the last snow for the season. So this coming Wednesday, March 1st is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. My  immediate family hasn’t fasted or given anything up for Lent in the past, but I have observed many of my Catholic friends & relatives doing so over the years. Lent is the 40 day period between Ash Wednesday and Easter and is a special time of year where Christians spend extra time in prayer, penance and sacrifice, such as giving something up. I do find it odd when non-Christians give up things for Lent, as the practice is related to making a sacrifice for those 40 days, as Jesus made a sacrifice for us. I’m not sure if it is just a “trendy” thing to do or what.

I have never tried giving anyone up for Lent before, but I have decided to this year. I have to admit, when thinking about this, there isn’t much for me to give up. I don’t drink alcohol or pop, I don’t eat junk/snack food, I don’t eat fast food, I don’t really eat very many sweets, I don’t smoke, I don’t shop, I don’t gamble, etc. So after some thought & prayer, I decided to give up complaining and my tendency to let other people’s actions and words effect me way more than I should. The complaining seems to stem from how other people in my life are making me feel or their actions/words towards myself & others. I often become fixated on making sure I am pleasing everyone by trying to be the best friend, sister, daughter, wife, etc. that I can be and lately I feel like that effort is not reciprocated back towards me from several people in my life. This has caused me to complain more often and my husband is the one who ends up having to listen to it most of the time. I am one of those people who loves buying other people presents, especially when I know it will excite them. I get frustrated and sometimes a bit hurt, when I constantly go out of my way to see how someone is doing or buy an extra special birthday/wedding/shower present or by sending them a card in the mail, to then to have that person not ask me for months how I am doing or about really anything going on in my life. I get that not everyone is like this, but to me, if I am going to have a relationship with someone, I am going to do my very best to make that a great relationship, regardless of how busy I am.

The other thing I find myself complaining about is witnessing actions or lack of action from other people. And trust me, I am well aware that everyone has the right to live their lives the way they want to, there are just some things I don’t want to be a part of, but can’t seem to separate myself from. This isn’t always fair since it is their life and their decisions. But I have several people in my life, as I am sure everyone does, that tend to complain about everything and anything, constantly, yet they refuse to do anything to change their situation or correct the problem. And I feel that I often go weeks to months without hearing them really talk about anything positive. Examples that are very frustrating to have to listen to over and over; “I’m so busy all the time,  I can never get caught up on anything, it’s horrible!” And then this person will go out every weekend instead of staying home and catching up on work/housework. Or “I’m so fat.” These people will complain about their weight all the time, but continue to eat poorly, drink alcohol and not exercise. Or the people who complain about their stress level, but won’t change their lifestyle to help that stress. Etc. All of these situations and conversations are frustrating to me and sometimes become stressful because I have to have them over and over again, just to watch these people make no changes to their lives. So why am I wasting my time? And why do I let it irritate me? I’m not sure, but I am sure that I need to stop caring and complaining about it. If people don’t want to change their circumstances, you can’t force them.

Everyone complains, I think it is human nature. Sometimes it is just venting our frustration with a particular person or situation. Sometimes I get really frustrated with some of my chronic health problems and complain about those as well, all the while knowing that complaining isn’t going to change anything. However, I need to learn not to let the things that other people say and do effect me anymore because it isn’t constructive. I get frustrated when I see people I love making the same mistakes over and over again and continuing to complain about it  when they are unwilling to change. I will explain something to my husband or a friend and say, “I just don’t get why so-and-so doesn’t see what he/she is doing.” The other things I need to let go of and stop caring about is when people say things to me that make me irritated, upset or angry. There are a a few people in my life who don’t take me seriously, if you will, because we are still living at my parent’s house. It becomes extremely frustrating when I am talking about something and someone responds with condescending remarks. That makes me feel like I have to explain myself to them, when really I don’t. I don’t have to explain myself and their comments really shouldn’t mean anything to me when they aren’t coming from a place of love or respect. The people in my life who truly love me and care about me, are positive and encouraging, they don’t make me feel bad about myself or my choices. They get excited with me when I talk about the things that make me happy. I think it’s time to take some distance from the ones who don’t share my excitement or offer the condescending remarks in return.

I have a great life, despite the challenges that face my husband and myself. I thank God everyday that he gave me such a wonderful husband to share my life with. Although we are not in our ideal situation at the moment, we will be soon. In a few months we will  start the mortgage process and start actually looking at houses. By late summer or fall we will hopefully have found a house to purchase and will be moving in. And hopefully starting around December, we are planning to start TTC. Spring is right around the corner, which means warm weather and sunshine. And then before we know it, my favorite season summer, will be here and we will be at the lake every weekend enjoying the beautiful weather with family and friends. I also love to do my cardio outside, instead of in the gym when possible, so in another week the temperatures look like they will stay in the upper 50’s, which makes me very happy. Those are the things I am going to focus on and not what the other people in my life are doing/saying. My priorities right now, beyond my relationship with God, are my husband, myself and our journey toward great things this year.

If you decide to give up something for Lent, I encourage to think outside of the normal things that people often pick. Spend some time praying about the topic and choose something that might have an impact on you after Lent is finished. When I went back to proofread this blog post, a lot of it sounds like I am complaining, which wasn’t my intention. I was simply trying to explain the reasons behind my decision and why I think I have been more often frustrated and complaining lately. It’s hard for me when I feel like I put a lot of effort into relationships and I don’t get the same in return. This isn’t anything new, I have been like this my whole life and it took me a while to let go of other people’s expectations about where my life was (i.e. college, job, marriage). So now I once again need to learn to let go of the actions, words and opinions of others that aren’t coming from a place of love and respect and focus on the many wonderful and positive things in my life.  I am hoping that making this change for the 40 days of Lent will make a permanent change in the way I react to the what the people in my life say and do. And I hope everyone else can also learn do that same, if you haven’t already.

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