Thursday, April 07, 2011

Relenting to Lent: A Journey Through Words

Let's be real: I've been putting off writing this post.

Several weeks ago we shared our better late than never choice to give up "negative words" for Lent. Following the lead of one my favorite authors, Shauna Niequist, we decided that Lent is not so much about giving up but offering up our broken and best selves to God.

I told my husband about my desire to give up negative words for this season before Easter. We'd been in what we fondly, gritting-our-teeth call "the crazy cycle" a few times in the last week. We were spending precious time arguing over petty things. Mind you, it wasn't the cap on the toothpaste but it might as well have been. We were letting ourselves grow impatient with each other in the day-to-day when deep down we both knew we were impatient with something much bigger: the waiting this season of life presents.

My husband, who is so much quicker to humble himself and beg forgiveness than I am, decided to jump in on my promise for Lent. He declared that he would be joining me on the journey to give up negative words. We agreed to be accountable to each other.

Ericlee is good accountability. In fact, he's great accountability. Maybe that's why he's such a respected coach and personal trainer. Say the word and he will keep you on task. I was grateful and a wee bit nervous about the days ahead.

On the first day, I really contemplated the option of keeping my mouth totally shut for the next 40-some days. Wouldn't that be easier? Just shove all the sarcastic comments and negative thoughts down and zip my lips. Well, that wasn't the point so I waded on. Not to mention that's a little bit difficult when you're raising two chatty girls and caring for one boy. Sometimes mama has got to wager in on a situation.

Ericlee reported to me on the first night that he had already failed twice that day. It was something sarcastic he said to one of his athletes that had caused him to sit down and shape up.

We agree that doing this has been a really good discipline. We actually have to think before we speak. Imagine that.

We also had to decide what "negative" words really meant - define it deep within ourselves. Own it. I've decided that giving up negative words does not mean giving up disappointment or grief. It doesn't mean I can't speak my opinion. It doesn't mean I have to see the glass as half-full all the time. It doesn't mean I neglect disciplining and training my kids. However, it does mean I need to pay attention to my tone. It does mean I have to watch how far I take a conversation. My husband has to pay attention to the way he communicates something and how it is received by others.

This all points us back to where we started - recognizing as Ann Voskamp writes that a "failed Lent is actually success." In other words, we experience just a bit of the difficult journey. We taste sacrifice. And we are humbly reminded of the heart of Easter. We are directed back to the Cross and the reason we all desperately need mercy and grace.

I hold my tongue. I pray. I breathe out new grace.


Monica said...

I looved this. Thank you SO much! :)

Craig said...

I’m here from Ann’s Walk With him Wednesday, it take some time to get to read the links from there – I spend the week reading thank you’s – don’t start reading these till the weekend. Glad I got here!!

And what a great thing to give up for Lent – it’s a sacrifice to be sure – but it has real benefits to. No? Even with ourselves – so negative all the time – those negative voices we feed ourselves – and then outwardly too – and I heart these words “pay attention to my tone” “it doesn't mean I have to see the glass as half-full” “taste sacrifice.” Amen.

Thank you for this. God bless and keep you and all of yours.