02 March, 2014

On my pregnant and gentle Lent...

Sorry I missed a day, yesterday, y'all. It was filled with friends from out of town, a bridal shower, naps, loads of laundry and an impromptu pizza & pajama party with friends.  Don't worry, bonus post coming on Monday...



So Lent.

I take Lent very seriously.  When it comes to Lenten sacrifices I'm all in: prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

I don't mean this to brag or to pretend I'm some-kind-of-holy because HA! I am not!

For real though, I love Lent!

One reason I love Lent is because it's a great time for a spiritual reset. For us to look at our day-to-day and change it up a bit.  Where are we struggling, where are we hurting, where could we grow more... and with the help of the Lord, a predetermined amount of time, and a community encountering the same growth, it's just a little bit easier to work through these rough spots in our lives to become a little more refined and a little holier.

Another reason is because I think there is tremendous growth in suffering. It's one of the beautiful things about the Catholic Church.  Not the holier than though kind. Or the I'm such a martyr kind. Nor the whoa is me kind. But the kind that unites us with Jesus'  passion, death and resurrection.  The kind that reminds us of the sacrifice of Mother Mary to lose her Son.  The kind that purifies us and makes us grow.

In the past I've taken the responsibility to choose something challenging for Lent very seriously.  I've always thought if I am going to be leading a group of teens in choosing their Lenten sacrifice then I need to be a good example. (I am so humbled by this responsibility and more so in the things the teens choose as their sacrifice)

So for the last few years I've prayerful considered where I am most struggling and looked for ways to grow in those areas:
  • The year I struggled with joy I read One Thousand Gifts and kept a daily log of things I was thankful for
  • The year I over indulged in social drinking and convenience foods I gave up all drinks expect water and put all that money toward buying & preparing food for the homeless
  • The year I struggled with materialism I read a The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide and systematically cleaned and purged every room in our apartment.
But when I started praying about this Lent, and reflecting on this past year I got a bit overwhelmed.  It's been a long, rough year.
  • I admitted to emotional binge eating and worked through lots of body image & relationship issues.
  • We got pregnant and lost a baby.
  • Eric lost two uncles.
  • I had a particularly difficult and challenging work year, that took a toll on my emotions, spirit, and several relationships.
  • I discovered some battles my husband had been fighting and it forced me to reopen some deep wounds from my past in order to heal alongside Eric.
  • I discerned that after nine years of joyfully working for the Church my vocational focus is taking a huge shift.
Just writing this list has me in tears all over again.

I am exhausted. Plain and simple. My heart hurts and I am in need of spiritual renewal more than ever.

Being due with this baby the day after Easter, I am entering the last 45 days of my pregnancy as we begin Lent.  The thought of giving up anything food related, physically demanding, or requires a lot of time/energy just isn't realistic.

At first I felt super guilty. That I was using the pregnancy as a cop-out, but the more I prayed the more I feel confident in what I have discerned I need to do this year.

I read Elizabeth Esther's post on A Gentle Lent, Dwija's post on Lent for Pregnant People, and this week's chapter in my copy of A Catholic Mother's Companion to Pregnancy on humility and asking for help...

I've decided that what I need is to just BE.  To intentionally engage in the things I already do and to do them more joyfully.

So this year for Lent:

Prayer:

  • To stop hiding behind my two year old and to reengage in the Sunday Liturgy: intentionally bless myself, to consciously genuflect, to prepare the readings before Mass, and to receive our Eucharistic Lord with thanksgiving
  • To take five quiet minutes a day to just enter into prayer/meditation, and just BE with our Lord

Fasting: To limit my complaining about All Pregnant Things but to find joy in the life within me

Almsgiving: To help Eric fundraise for his summer trip to Mustard Seed Nicaragua

What are you doing for Lent this year?  Are you going big? Are you taking it easy?  Are going trying something new? Are you sticking with an old standby?

3 comments:

  1. I'm not Catholic or even particularly religious but I always participate in Lent to some extent. I find it helps me think about things, be a bit more intentional about my life. I feel I've been very negative lately so I've decided to do my own 100 days of happiness thing for the 40 days of Lent - an intent to be positive about one thing, daily. I'm thinking about giving up alcohol as well. But that's definitely something I need to think about first.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I also read Elizabeth's post and found it so be such a comfort for me...it has been a rough year for my husband and I as we work through so issues together/individually...as well work on our finances. Prayer for a peaceful and gentle Lent for you!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Saying a prayer for you guys this Lent!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for reading! We'd love to hear from you!