2015 is getting away from me. Not that I’m not enjoying the year – I am. But I had resolutions on my plate that got lost somewhere under a big helping of busy. I’m left wondering how to keep my goals, not just my to-do list, at the forefront of my daily life. For example you may have wondered where my weekly blog went since it’s been about 8 weeks since I’ve written. You might also wonder what happened in the rest of my 7 project? Oh I did it, and I learned a lot, but I got behind and didn’t tell you about it (I’m still planning to).
Now, I wasn’t just sitting around thinking about how not to share my thoughts with you. I was busy. I’m sure you’ve been busy too. I went to New York, I went to Africa, worked with new cooperatives, designed new products, volunteered at the Denver Catholic Worker Soup Kitchen, visited with the Salvation Army Others fair trade program, ate nothing but porridge for a week, helped with my daughter Cali’s lacrosse team, made an unexpected stop in Puerto Rico, answered late night texts from my dear friend struggling through a divorce, started taking Dale Partridge’s Startup Camp online class, bought new products for Global Girlfriend, drove Ellie on countless trips to the horse barn, helped my son Dakota renew his passport for spring break in Cancun (pray for us), and worked on marketing Among Women Collection. But I didn’t write, which is what I vowed to do in 2015. Storytelling is where I’m feeling called, but not where I’m spending my time or energy.
Do you ever get behind and think, what’s the point? I can’t keep up. Life is too busy. I can’t live up to my own expectations, let alone those of others, so I give up! But can we really give up on a calling? The dictionary definition of a calling is “a strong urge toward a particular way of life or a career.” I believe that God is calling each of us at different times in our lives, and we won’t be satisfied (neither will he) unless we answer. So for Lent this year while my husband Brad made a big sacrifice giving up chocolate chip cookies (huge for him really), I decided to give up giving up.
What do I mean when I say I gave up giving up for Lent? Before we get to that let’s talk about why people give things up for Lent in the first place. When I mentioned Lenten sacrifices at work recently one of my co-workers asked “isn’t that just a Catholic thing?” Maybe, but here’s why I think all believers should consider the practice. In an article on the Busted Halo blog Neela Kale helps explain Lenten sacrifice as follows:
“Giving up something for Lent sometimes evokes head-scratching in non-Catholics, but what might seem like just another Catholic eccentricity can actually be a practice with deep spiritual significance. Lent, the period of 40 days that precedes the celebration of Easter, has its origin in the early days of the Church. Converts seeking to become Christian, who at that time were mostly adults, spent several years in study and preparation. Under the threat of Roman persecution, becoming a Christian was serious business, so their process of preparation was intensive! Then they went through a final period of “purification and enlightenment” for the 40 days before their baptism at Easter. The rest of the Church began to observe the season of Lent in solidarity with these newest Christians. It became an opportunity for all Christians to recall and renew the commitment of their baptism.
Today we know Lent as a season of conversion: we acknowledge the ways we have turned away from God in our lives and we focus on turning our hearts and minds back toward God. Giving up something for Lent is ultimately a form of fasting. We can deprive ourselves of some small pleasure and offer that sacrifice up to God. Or we might “give up” a bad habit such as smoking as a way of positively turning our life back towards what God wants for us.”
Lent is about getting back to God and back to what God wants for us. It is listening closely to that voice inside you, your calling. So isn’t turning away from my goals for myself, in a way, turning away from what God wants for me? If you believe, like I do, that we are each called, then what happens when we aren’t listening? I know what happens when we do answer our call. It can feel scary, we’ll have to take risks, we may have to endure hardships, but when we are moving in the direction God has in mind for us amazing things are in store.
On Ash Wednesday I was in Lesotho, a small country in southern Africa. I started the day surrounded by hundreds of school children at morning mass (a great story for another day) and ended at dinner with a couple named Edward and Alice. Just a few years ago Edward and Alice were barely getting by. Lesotho is a beautiful place where life is still hard for too many people. In a country of just over two million people, 23% are infected with HIV/AIDS, the unemployment rate stands at 25%, and almost half of the population live below the poverty line. Edward, was struggling to find work and Alice was getting paid very low wages working in a Chinese owned factory when Edward felt the call to do something. “I asked my wife will you be ashamed of me if I start driving a wheelbarrow in town,” Edward told me. Driving a wheelbarrow to help people in the market haul loads was considered the lowliest job, just above a beggar, and it paid only a rand or two per load. Edward knew that he needed to start somewhere, even if it was at the bottom, in order to help his wife and daughter. Alice told him that she would not be ashamed, but proud and that she knew he would not drive a wheelbarrow forever. He didn’t. He developed his English behind the wheelbarrow and made it a point to talk to everyone he met. Soon he was hired as a gardener, then managed a team of grounds keepers, then was promoted to a driver, and now drives for an orphanage as well as helps run a small sewing business with his wife Alice. They have a modest but nice home, and they are respected in their community. Edward told me, “I knew there was something more in me.” That’s a calling.
I learned a lot from Edward and Alice. Start small. Make the effort to do each day’s work. Pay attention to what is right in front of you. A calling isn’t something you achieve overnight, but something you are always moving toward. You have to listen. You have to answer. And you can’t quit.
So despite set backs, delays, or my own excuses; even if I feel over worked or over whelmed or under qualified; for this Lenten season I’ll be giving up on giving up. No small sacrifices for me this year. I’m going to keep eating cookies and drinking wine, but take on the projects weighing on my heart even when the business of life tries to get in the way. There’s still plenty of time in the season. There are 30 days until Easter. Will you join me and give up giving up? Wait, do you hear that? I think it’s your calling, calling…
dc:title=”Why I Gave Up Giving Up For Lent”