Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Balancing the Life Equation

First image from Brian Flanagan's "So What's the Story with Lent?"
Watch it here.

When I was younger, Ash Wednesday was about giving stuff up. Usually food stuff -- things like potato chips, chocolate, and dessert. As I got older, I continued that tradition -- still do, sometimes.

But as I get older, I find that giving up some sort of treat doesn't do much besides make me feel virtuous. French fries aren't standing between me and God, nor are they keeping me from being a good person. Yes, you can make the argument that the body is a temple, and so it should be treated as such, and if that's why you're giving up French fries, then perhaps that's the right choice for you. As for me, years of experience have taught me that giving up some item of food for Lent is, for me, a surface sacrifice. I feel virtuous, but in the end, no real change happens.

As I was thinking about this post, I stumbled across a YouTube video a friend had posted on Facebook. In a little over a minute, it crystallizes what Lent is all about -- no lectures, no how-to's, no guilt. And it's a great lens to look at those "Catholic New Year's Resolutions" through.

Which is exactly what I did.

This year, once again, I'm setting out o create Lenten resolutions that are a combination of breaking old habits and beginning new ones. I'm hoping the new habits will take me closer to the person I want to be -- the person I think perhaps God wants me to be -- whether I'm eating French fries and chocolate or not. I'll aim for 40 bags in 40 days again, as a way of getting rid of material stuff that creates a distraction and an actual, physical barrier, but aside from that, I'm focusing more on adding things. And while math was never my best subject, even I realize that adding in the right things means subtracting a few other things in order to make the life equation balance.

Which is perhaps the purpose in the first place.

Happy Ash Wednesday. Imagine the wonders that lie ahead.

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