Lenten Discipline

The other day, I was thinking about what great care I took of myself when I was pregnant. Even the second time around, when I had a toddler to distract me, I was really conscientious about eating well and getting some half-decent amount of sleep. I made sure I got plenty of water and exercise and all of those things.

Now, well, I’m not doing that. Or maybe I am, but I just don’t know it. I’m not paying enough attention to what I’m putting in my body or what I’m doing with it. I find myself thinking things like, “I feel like having a banana, but then there will only be one left, and we’re not doing groceries for three days, and Petra demands a banana a day, at least!” I end up eating a granola bar or a handful of Cheerios, or I don’t even know what. I get a glass of water with dinner and realize that it’s the first beverage I’ve had since my morning coffee–because every time I think to get a glass from the cupboard, someone pees on the floor or falls off the couch, and their needs are so pressing that I forget what I was doing.

I lead warmups at rehearsal and realize that it’s the first time I’ve been intentional about my movement in days. It feels great, and I think, “Wait, why have I not done this in forever?”

Lots of people give up something during Lent. It’s to remind them what they don’t need, as long as they have God. I think this year I’m taking something on. I’m not necessarily going to eat better or get more exercise, I’m just going to try to notice those kinds of things. I’m taking on paying attention. I’m taking on eating for enjoyment rather than straight-up calories to keep my body/machine marching. I’m carving out time to be mindful about what I’m doing.

Sometimes, my disregard for my own body/health/wellbeing gets to be a prideful thing. I can ignore sickness, low-level depression, sleep deprivation, and hunger to get done what needs to be done. I often invest too much of my identity in being that person. That person who can handle all of the things. That person who is so competent and productive. That person works harder and faster than anyone on her team. That person eats practically perfectly so that she can do a great job of growing a healthy little person. That person takes on big projects and finishes them on time and under budget. This year, what I’m giving up is my investment in that persona, which goes back long before the children. I’m asking for help. I’m handing things off. I’m letting things not get done if I don’t have energy for them.

I don’t know if I can do forty days of this. Old habits die hard.


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