This year I wrote at the beginning of Lent that I wasn’t sure what my practice was going to be. Later I decided what I was going to do but then didn’t post a follow-up. I beg the forgiveness of both my readers for leaving you hanging like that.
This year my practice was about giving up false comfort. For me, that was specifically in the areas of shopping & food. The goal was for me to honestly deal with how I felt rather than mask it with something that only provided momentary relief. I know I do this w/ food, particularly sugar, and I have to say that in this regard I was a little more successful than I thought. My need for something sweet after a meal is almost completely gone and my tolerance for sugary goodness is diminished.
The one that was more interesting to me was the shopping. Yes, I bought a couple of things for myself during this time, but it wasn’t “fun” shopping. It was basic shopping for things I need & were on deep discount right then – I think it was a pair of jeans & 2 t-shirts for the gym. That’s it. What I discovered was that I comfort shop for other people, particularly my niece & nephew.
When I was growing up, we didn’t have a ton of money. My parents started doing better later, but I always felt that I was behind my friends in the area of fashion. I most likely wasn’t, and I never lacked anything, but I also went to a private high school where there were kids of bazzillionaires who never wore the same thing twice & I was always envious. I started working for my dad when I was 12 & I spent a lot of it on clothes. Gap was my favorite (hmmm..well, that worked out).
I have this belief that stuff makes me happy. I get the stuff, it makes me happy for a while, then I need different stuff. If I can’t buy stuff for me, I buy stuff for other people for 2 reasons: 1) it will make them happy, and 2) they might like me more. Chloe & Ian have great parents who are teaching them the value of having the appropriate amount of stuff & to be generous in giving away the stuff you don’t need. That’s a much more healthy way of thinking.
The other thing is books. Geez, I love to buy books. I have many books I haven’t read, still want more, and can’t seem to stop buying them. I also can’t seem to make myself get rid of them – I’m a book hoarder. I’ve tried to get rid of ones that I haven’t read, but then I’m all, “But I want to read it, so maybe I’ll just keep it so I have the option.” I’m much more ruthless about getting rid of clothes. If I haven’t worn something in 3 months I’ll give it away. I’ve decided to be that ruthless with my books. Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to pack up some boxes to donate. Then & only then might I buy some I want to read.
All of this has helped me get to another level in my relationship with God because it has showed me that while I am fairly centered in that relationship, I could be more so. It’s a bit like going to heavier weights at the gym once you no longer feel the effects of the ones you’ve been using. I’m uncovering more of my need for God & God is removing the obstacles between us. It’s all in a lifetime’s formations.