I love the church year and church tradition, which is handy, since I am a pastor. One thing I love is how the liturgical year takes us on a journey of both lament and celebration. One of the traditions I enjoy the most is Lent, which is a time to lament your sins, your short comings, and all the things separating you from God and from a fully healthy life. Since I have decided to name 2016 as the year I begin to understand what a healthy life, in all areas of my life looks like, it seems like Lent is another chance to reflect on what unhealthy habits need to be removed or replaced in my own life. Normally, I have tried to give up one thing and add one thing in its place and this year I have decided to take on the same challenge.
When I was living in Sweden, one question I liked to ask people was, "what do you think of Americans?" The answers were almost always kind and friendly and yet also insightful and challenging. One of the more challenging answers I received is that we like everything to be fast. Fast cars, fast food, fast lines, fast relationships, fast everything. My pace in Sweden seemed to slow down dramatically and it made it perfectly clear how correct they were. Americans like for things to be quick and convenient. One area this is most obvious to me in my own life is in the food I eat. Yes this means the occasional trip through the drive through but most of the time it means not taking the time to really prepare a meal and instead eating something processed and unbalanced, only for the sake of my own laziness.
Therefore, for Lent, my goal is to first, not eat anything through a fast food restaurant. But taking it a step further my main goal is to stop eating conveniently and to start eating a balanced and thoughtfully made meal, at least once a day.
I was recently sitting in a Starbucks (shocking, I know) where I couldn't help but listen to the table next to me. It was 2 friends catching up on their lives, and I noticed that the only thing they were mentioning were complaints. Their families, their children, their jobs, their health, the weather, the government, and on and on. While I sat there, silently judging them, I found myself beginning to wonder what someone sitting next to me would overhear in one of my conversations. I started thinking about it and I realized that I complain... a lot. Mostly, I find myself complaining the most to myself, but still it starts to change my mood, my spirit, my whole feeling of well-being.
Starting on Ash Wednesday, I am going to begin a gratitude challenge. No matter what happens during the day, I am going to journal at least 5 things, each day, that I am grateful for. My hope in doing this is that instead of focusing on the (perceived) negative things in my life I will begin to be thankful for the abundance of good things that surround me every day.
Who wants to join me?