This year for Lent, I’m giving up the what-ifs.
I used to give up chocolate, year after year. I’d miss it at first, forget about it, eat it on Easter, and move on. It was not exactly the most spiritual experience.
Then one year, Jenn’s priest uncle gave me a copy of a Lenten reflection book: short stories taken from the news or pop culture, paired with a Bible quote and a few questions for reflection. For Lent that year, I went through each daily reflection and actually wrote down my answers.
It was the first time I really got something out of Lent. I became more aware of where I needed to improve, and aware of how God factored into the little things of everyday life I usually kept separate from Him. By Easter it felt like there was something to celebrate, something in how God’s presence and lessons make us better.
Since then I try to avoid aimless giving up of things and work on something more productive. Some years are better than others.
This year, I’m tackling my worry and how it relates to a lack of trust in God. I’m giving up my what-ifs:
What if I get a stomach virus? What if I go blind? What if I pass out at the gym? What if I screw up at work? What if I offended my friend? What if that person doesn’t really like me? What if something happens to my husband/mother/family/friend/etc? What if my car doesn’t start? What if this restaurant gives me food poisoning? What if I have kids and something bad happens to them? What if I never have kids? What if I get cancer? What if I’m stuck working in New York the rest of my life? What if I’m not and I have to start over again at another job? What if I slip and fall in the snow? What if the car crashes, or the plane crashes or…you get it.
What if….I just stopped living this way?
What if I remembered that events go according to God’s plans, whether or not I like it, whether or not I understand it?
What if I realized that worrying and trying to look for proof or answers to things was just a false security system, and not real peace?
Real peace would be trusting God more, right? And they say God’s hands are the safest place to be, so why is this so hard for me?
Worrying can sometimes be okay- worrying before a meeting forces me to work hard to get my facts straight before presenting. Worrying about buying a house forces us to budget and save. It’s got a place, for sure, but personally I’m bogged down in a lot of regular unproductive worry.
So that’s what I’m giving up, the what-ifs, the looking for answers, trying to predict the future. I’m giving up trying to worry about every little thing. When I feel a what-if pop into my head, I will remind myself that it is God’s decision, and force myself to let it go.
I’m hoping by the end of Lent my God-reminder thought replacement will work, that at the very least the default setting of my brain will be a little more trusting, and not always so ready to jump to the worst conclusion.
We will see! Anyone else giving things up? Anyone doing something normal like cheese or shopping?