After week one, I have started and finished 3 books; had a few great discussions with my husband; have gotten more sleep; am able to pray more, and better. It's like a fog has lifted. I'm also starting to think of some of the things that I need to get done around this house, but have been putting off.
It's still hard. It's so much easier for me to come home and talk myself into "relaxing" in front of the tube, rather than exerting a little effort on something productive. After all, didn't I work hard all day and deserve a break? Well...no, because if I don't do it, it won't get done, and there are a million and a half "its" around our home that need done, along with a million and a half "its" in the Church that need attention. All these "well-deserved breaks" I talk myself into are nothing more than procrastination in disguise, and procrastinating is a symptom of an undisciplined life.
Let's face it, Americans don't like discipline. Fast food? Cable? Gaming? Forget the effort it takes to cook, to read, or to do something that actually requires leaving your house and engaging real live people; and these aren't even the biggies. We fool ourselves into thinking that its all ok, that God still loves us. Loving us and being pleased with us, however, are two very different things. We thus make a conscious effort during these 40 days to reflect on those areas of our lives where we know we are disappointing God, and we give up something, spend more time in prayer, do works of mercy, and if we're doing it right, we'll develop the discipline we need to fight temptation.
If you're not on the Lenten walk yet, it's not too late to start today. You can even make it as simple as picking a book of Scripture and reading a little of it every day. Some other ideas:
Start using off-brand personal items, and donate your regular brand (unopened, of course) to a shelter.
Cut out playing Wii for an evening and go volunteer at the homeless shelter.
Take giving up sweets to the next level, and use the money you save to buy canned goods for a food pantry.
Turn off your car radio and talk to God while you drive.
Be silent for an hour a day.
Go to Church one more day a week.
If you don't already, pray at the same time every morning--this is a great prayer with which to start:
The Road Ahead by Thomas Merton
MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think that I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always
though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.