Originally posted at Livejournal 9th March 2011
Today is the start of Lent. Traditionally a time of 40 days when Christians fast or spend more time reflecting on their faith. Many people who are not Christians also enter into the spirit of it by giving up something like chocolate or Facebook. That’s how it’s supposed to work anyway. Me? I’ve just blundered into this Wednesday like any other Wednesday and I expect I’ll blunder through the next six weeks in much the same way.
Lent always seems like a good idea – time to spend more time focusing on what’s important. In reality? It really isn’t going to happen in my life without a serious structural overhaul. There are some great devotional books out there and our church is focusing on the TearFund Carbon Fast but I can’t help thinking it’s just another thing to DO, another thing to pack in to an already creaking-at-the-seams week.
I don’t want to DO any more, I want to do quite a lot LESS. My days start at 5.30am and I can’t remember the last time I sat down in a living room chair and watched something on TV. I’m either working on something, out at a meeting or running my daughter here, there and everywhere. I collapse into bed, try and read some of my current book (I attend two bookgroups and rarely finish anything these days), inevitably falling asleep halfway down the second page. John Ortberg in his book The Life You’ve Always Wanted devotes an entire chapter to telling people like me to slow down and stop rushing about. I skim read it. I was in a hurry to finish it.
Perhaps this year is the time to slow down. Instead of giving up alcohol, cakes or crisps (which I haven’t touched since November anyway), I should spend the next six weeks until Easter looking at what I pack in to the average week, look at what can be culled, so that I can slow down, stop skimming through my life and actually live it for a change.
Instead of doing seventeen things averagely, how about if I do eight of them really well? Would the planet really shudder to a halt if I stopped doing something at church? Perhaps some may feel agrieved that I am ‘ducking my responsibilties’? To that I reply that I’ve been making a contribution there since 2001, I’ve given a nice big chunk of my time, there’s lots of new people in the church, so how about one of them taking on some of the things I do over and above my job? I’m already in the building 20+ hours a week, surely that counts as pulling my weight?
I don’t have the time in the week to fit in exercise and I certainly don’t have time to pursue things away from Church that I would like to. I don’t find that I have enough time to read and study, to socialise or to even spent time with my husband and daughter. My entire life is lived at 60mph and I’m sad to say that recently I’ve been finding that if information doesn’t come in 140 characters or less, I’m inclined to switch off. That is not a good sign in anybody’s book.
John Ortberg quotes a friend who gave him this piece of advice: ‘You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.’
Yes. If nothing else I think I’d like that to be my devotion for Lent.