I don't always give something up for Lent. I don't always take something on either (a practice promoted by many pastor friends of mine.) Sometimes I just...do Lent. I know, I know, I should be better at this, I'm a pastor.
This year, I thought for a long time about what I should give up for Lent. I've tried giving up certain foods in the past with limited results. (And, let's be honest, more of a diet mentality going on than true spiritual discipline.) I've tried adding spiritual practices but I feel like this year I already have a lot going on with my 20 for 20 list. For a long time, nothing was jumping out at me that made sense for where I am at this stage in life.
Until I realized in a single moment exactly what I should give up this year.
It's so obvious.
I'm giving up a phrase.
The phrase "I can't wait..."
I say this all the time. I can't wait until this happens. I can't wait until I get to be here or there or see this person or that person. I can't wait, I can't wait, I can't wait. When I started paying attention I realized I say this phrase on average of 3 times a day and I think it even more than that.
So what's the problem with this phrase?
It means I'm not living in the moment. I am, like a typical 7 on the Enneagram, living in the future. I tend to live in constant anticipation of what's next to the detriment of enjoying where I am right now. It's a real problem. I'm hoping that by giving up the phrase "I can't wait" (or at least trying to!) I can start to counteract this bad habit.
For instance, last week I was in Minnesota, playing my favorite game in the whole world (Dominion) with some of my favorite people in the whole world (including my Godson) and I actually said out loud, "I can't wait until we're in London playing this with Steve!"
[Okay, to be truly honest, I actually said, "I can't wait until we're in Steve playing this with London!" which cracked everybody up for like ten minutes. I was tired!]
Do you see the problem there? (Besides my messing up the phrasing, haha.) Instead of enjoying where I was, doing something I love with people I love, I was busy anticipating a future moment when I would also be doing something I love with someone I love. How silly is that?
I'm almost one week into this practice of trying to give up this phrase. I've let it slip a few times, and it has crossed my mind at least a few times a day. The good thing is, I am aware of it now. When I say it or think it I can stop, check-in with myself about why I am anticipating a future moment and what I should be enjoying instead.
If you spend time with me in person and hear me using this phrase, please, call me out. I need help staying accountable to this goal. I did not realize how ingrained this phrase was in me until I started paying attention to it. It runs deep.
My hope is that by losing this phrase (or at least becoming aware of every instance I want to use it) I can become more attuned to my life in the moment rather than always looking ahead. This feels like a spiritual practice to me and an important one.
Oh my gosh, I literally just thought to write "I'm excited to see how this will change me by Easter..." - but do you see what that is!? Me anticipating the future again! When things will be better! Seriously this habit will be hard to break!
This Lent I'm going to attempt to live my life in the moment. Because the truth is... all those times I say "I can't wait"? Well, I have to wait! I don't' have a fast forward button on life and I'm pretty sure if I did I wouldn't want to use it. I'd miss out on a lot along the way. So instead of just waiting for some future perfect moment, I'm going to live and enjoy right where I am.
At this moment, I am sitting at the kitchen table in my parent's house, I'm hungry and pretty tired, and I'm trying to experience this moment as it is. No future anticipation to comfort me. It's not so bad.
Wish me luck!