Wednesday, March 16, 2011


3 : the regular or customary condition or course of things

What does your ordinary life look like?  Are you content? compelled? coasting?  I find I am lately trending more towards contentment than I have at any other time in my life.  I was thinking about this as I lay on my bedroom floor doing push-ups at 9:30 on a Tuesday night.  I've developed so far this year a fairly consistent schedule of working out on Mondays and Thursdays.  (What's that?  I know two days weekly isn't really enough, but it's better than nothing and it's a target I've been able to hit, so I'm going with it.)  But this Monday was different - it was the start of spring break, I had all three girls at home, the day was gray, the mood of our home was laid back and I didn't want to work out.  So I didn't. Which was fine until Tuesday evening.  As I drove home from dinner, I could feel how much my body wanted exercise.  So I left J to deal with three girls (two of our own, plus a friend) and headed upstairs for some time with the treadmill and hand weights.

While debating how long my treadmill intervals should be, I realized I hadn't fulfilled my Lenten aim for the day - no time to create a collage on this day.  Should I stop my workout mid-stream and head down to pull out the art materials?  Or should I simply begin to learn the lesson that this Lent is pointing me towards - a lesson on self-care, its value and its place in my life.  Because if giving up caffeine and making time to create collages have anything in common, it's the thread of self-care.

I love how intentional our church is being about the Lenten season.  It makes me give it more thought and encourages me to see this season as more than just 40 days of self-denial and willpower.  One idea that has really struck me is the concept that Lent originally began Ordinary Time in the church calendar.  So a Lenten vow - whether one of giving something up or taking something on - would not be about surviving 40 days only to go back to the way things were before.  Instead, Lent is a petri dish for change - a concentrated, consecrated time to begin small changes that you want to be a part of your ordinary, everyday life.  I didn't know this when I gave up caffeine and committed to collage everyday, but I do think there are lessons in my Lent that need applying more regularly in my life, especially as they relate to self-care.

I have an on-again, off-again relationship with self-care.  I could sit with you at a coffee shop and extol its value to you, then go home and completely ignore my own needs for days on end, choosing instead to take care of others or occupy my time with any number of productive, if ultimately unimportant, tasks.  Even before Lent, I've been finding pockets of time to take care of myself.  Odd as it may sound, I try to choose a bath over a shower whenever possible.  A bath is a slower, more meditative way to cleanse myself and start my day.  I keep two books nearby.  I read one or both.  I close my eyes and rest my head on the lip of the tub.  I soak in bubbles.  It may sound small, but it has given me a way to choose to take care of myself on a daily basis.  And I have found that when I choose this for myself, I am better able to deal with the demands life places on me.  I can give more and resent less.  I can say no and forgo the guilt of doing so.  I can, in short, be healthier.

I'd like more of this in my life - more self-care, a healthier, more whole me.  I would like self-care to be a part of my ordinary life, at Lent and always.  Seeing Lent this way gives it life and beauty instead of making it a time of legalism and ample opportunities to fail.  It's not really about whether I have a Coke or create a card for a friend today.  It's about seeing, learning and really understanding the lesson in my Lent.  A lesson for an ordinary day.


rufusjt said...

What a terrific partner and guide you are, my love


Variations On A Theme said...

How funny that you say you like how intentional your church is about the Lenten season. I just complimented your intentionality with parenting in the above post (I'm reading them backwards, trying to catch up). And self-care? Wow. Now THERE'S a topic...