The Lentan season is a time to turn inward (like the Muslim season of Ramadan) and focus on those things that keep you from being the person you could be. Lent is the Christian invitation to focus on what saps our energy and attention from God.
Typically, people will ‘give up’ something – often something they love – chocolate, or soda, or a particular kind of distraction such as television or the radio, in order to be willingly humbled each moment in the day when you have a desire for that particular taste, object, or activity.
In the past I’ve given up meat, Tositios, regular Coke, and a whole list of tangible items. This year’s decision came as a surprise even to me on the heels of the observations of a visiting friend. As I was taking her around town, I would give her the emotional history of my relationship with particular individuals.
“She used to hate me,” I’d say after we’d met someone in the hallway, “but then we became friends.”
“He hates me,” I would say and shrug as we left someone’s office.
“Do they hate you?” She asked me, startling me one afternoon when I was explaining something about a local group. Her use of my own phrase helped me hear myself and the casual way I was describing serious issues.
The upside to this discussion is that it helped me realize how much I relish the angry emotions: rage, hate, burning anger, bodering on malice. I realize how I’ve been holding the strong burn of anger close, almost as a friend, using it as a crutch for coping with the demands of living overseas (or just the bumps of life in general).
So, for the next forty days, until Easter (the end of March), I will give up the luxury of being furious.
What will I do with my energy in the meantime?
Stay tuned and find out.