This year for Lent, as I thought, my sacrifice is going to be giving up sweets. I haven't done this for Lent in at least a decade, primarily because I don't usually eat much candy, and baked goods aren't around that often. But somehow this year, particularly with candy, I've been out of control, eating some basically every single day I'm at the office.
I had made a pan of caramel brownies to take to Mardi Gras, and I somehow ended up bringing about half of them back home. Ugh. I shared a few with my neighbor and brought a few to work, but I ate too many of them.
I specifically told my husband, no chocolate for Valentine's Day this year. And my original idea for a fun VD night was that we would stop for fro-yo after our Italian conversation class. But that plan was abandoned. But I did eat fro-yo on Monday night after work before we went to have our taxes done. Like I said, I've really been out of control in 2013. I can't remember another year in recent memory where I've eaten as many sweets in the first 40 or so days of the year.
But I've never liked the idea of doing some kind of sacrifice that really benefits me for Lent. It seems so self-serving. I have a friend who gave up cheese, and many others who do sweets or alcohol. But no one seems to give up spinach or brushing their teeth or cooking or warm water in the shower.
And I don't even particularly like the idea of sharing what you are giving up, yet I do it regularly -- both here on the blog, and in person (telling my husband why I didn't want chocolate for Valentine's Day, telling my neighbor why not to bring over the piece of chocolate cake she had for me). I would like to be better abou that in the future.
Anyway, since giving up sweets is a sacrifice for me, I figured it was a good option this year. But I also want to do something that embodies the purpose of Lent more in my mind than giving up sweets.
Calling, emailing or texting a family member daily, and having the communication be one of love.
Volunteering (and I'm doing 2.5 hours tonight, but I don't feel like a weekly commitment is enough of an affirmative act for Lent, and I just don't see how to work in something daily).
Random acts of kindness to strangers daily.
More time for prayer or "Godly" reading.
Reaching out to meet neighbors I don't know.
Snail mail letters to friends far away.
Giving away something I don't need daily -- pulling one item from my house (or wallet) (or body, such as a pint of blood) and giving it to someone who needs it more.
More attendance at church (this has its own issues for me, which is why I didn't choose it).
Paying sincere compliments daily.
I opted for the latter. And I started today with my secretary. She and I had a rough day yesterday. I heard from my office walking buddy (second week of walking together! she made it 1.29 miles!!!) that my secretary called me a bitch yesterday. And honestly, it was probably justified. I was so frustrated by my secretary's constant questions and requests for direction when I asked her to track down a FedEx package that had been signed for and addressed to me the day before, but hadn't made it to my desk. I know I spoke too sharply. I fully deserved to be called a name. I need to work on my patience and my manners. And if something is bothering me, like I think she should have been more professional in her emailed query to the sender of the package, or that I want her to take control of a task rather than having me micro-manage it, I need to say that directly and politely. Anyway... all that to say yesterday was not a good day for us in our working relationship. But today, she is wearing a very pretty top that is a mix of bright pinks and royal blues, along with a blue cardigan. Those colors look beautiful on her. I made a point of telling her I liked the colors. I try to avoid a lot of long "pleasantries" conversations with her -- in the interest of efficiency but also because on some level I don't feel like I like her very much and because she tends to overshare (way too much info about her personal health and medical issues, for example, or her personal financial situation) -- and my compliment led to her telling me a few things about new clothes she was thinking of buying, and how according to her colors, she is a "winter." Exactly the reason I don't usually talk to her much, but something I need to improve. Those pleasantries create a better foundation. And are a sincere way of showing that I care. But I'm starting with compliments. Not just to her, just to someone, at least once a day.
In some ways choosing daily sincere compliments is a way of repenting. Particularly when it comes to complimenting someone I've been not nice to. Or someone who irritates me. That's what I need to do. While I want to compliment my husband more as well, I need to work particularly on complimenting people who aren't my favorites in the world. But I also want to work more on complimenting character, than something superficial like colors or clothing. So instead of mentioning the pretty colors she is wearing, maybe ... I should have tried complimenting my secretary for eventually tracking down that package (and not complaining about her unprofessional emails to the sender, using his first name (which struck me as inappropriate), making others in the office do the searching for her, etc.). I'm not quite there yet. Sigh. But I want to work on it for the next 40 days. Genuine and sincere compliments -- particularly to people I don't compliment enough and particularly about substance rather than appearance.
As an aside, I must mention that one of my favorite parts of Lent is feeling like the world is on the same vegetarian team as me on Fridays!!!!!