My Lenten Promise: 2010

There are lots of things I could go without for a while. A few weeks ago I realized that I’d let the Internet take hold of me and considered another 40 day purge. This produced a surprising reaction in a few friends who reminded me that at the end of it I was miserable and there were lots of things I said I wouldn’t ever do again. I remember feeling isolated, and now is not the time to try that again. Plus, I have loads more internet friends this time around. I’d hate to vanish on them for nearly 2 months. I tried sussing out the details, to come up with a schedule/set of restrictions that made sense, but by the time it was all over, I realized I should just do those things anyway and I wasn’t really “sacrificing” as much as fixing. Plus, Lent was fast approaching and I didn’t really have that much time to plan.

I contemplated giving up soda completely. I’m already limiting my intake because of the pregnancy, but switching completely to tea and coffee would be a nice daily reminder that I was Giving Up Something.

Then again, I thought, why was I doing this at all? If I was a practicing Catholic, the pregnancy would render me exempt from participation, possibly to the point of sinning if I did it anyway (especially the fasting parts). I thought about not doing anything, but it just felt wrong not to participate. So I asked myself why, when I’m pregnant and “not even Catholic,” was this so important to me? Why do I do it?

The answer is simple: I do it to fix bad habits.

I’ve never been the kid who gives up candy or soda and then binges on it Easter Morning. I use the framework of Lent to help shape up some part of my life that needs the extra “support” of Lent’s camaraderie and structure. It’s like a New Year’s Resolution, only this case, people expect you to succeed instead of give up within the first couple of weeks. After all, Jesus is watching.

The question became “what bad habit do you want to fix?” I have lots of big and little things about me that I’d like to change, and even when you eliminate the dietary and physical changing that cannot and should not take place right now, there’s still plenty of options on the table. There’s one absurdly obvious choice that was so clear anything less seemed like cheating.

This Lent I pledge to give up not writing.

From now until April 4th (I do not subscribe to the “Sundays off” idea) I will spend 30 minutes writing something other than an email, a twitter update, or a grocery list. Some days it will be blog posts, others murmur articles, and most importantly, many days it will be fiction. Short stories, abandoned novel ideas, fan fiction if i’m completely swamped for ideas, poetry (okay, probably not poetry), whatever calls to me, so long as it’s made up. I’m so bummed at how completely abandoned my fictional pursuits are. It’s unrealistic to ask myself to write fiction every day, but I’m shooting for about half of the days to be fiction.

When I say writing, I mean writing. Not 30 minutes of note-taking or character exploration, or hunting down images or loading posts online. Not finding some half-dead article or blog post and polishing it up for publication. 30 minutes of really-real “starting with a blank page” writing.

Happy Lent!

(And yes, this post is today’s effort)

  • This is an excellent idea! I’ve never participated in Lent — it’s not part of my religious upbringing — but I’ve always admired when people use it to do something positive for themselves. Good luck!

  • mom

    I like your article and your rationalization. Now in days of old (my days) the choices were to either give up something you liked or doing something positive. An example is we would give up candy and then give the money we would have spent to the missions for the poor children in Pakistan. (Pakistan, you ask? My nuns had missions there.) I think your choice of writing everyday is a very positive action. I wish you well and hope very much that you succeed. I look forward to reading some. (But Sundays don’t count!)

  • Dave

    I loved the Catholic theology rationalization that you did up there. That was golden. I have similar goals for Lent. I need to be more productive in prepping the several academic projects I want to get rolling when i/ I get into grad school. That means less internet time devoted to hobby and interests, more time trying to figure out how to merge those interests with the things which could theoretically make me money.

    In short, it’s time for me to become an adult.

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