I got inordinately excited the other day, when I saw a McDonald’s fillet-o-fish commercial.
“Oh boy!” I said to Hubby, “Lent must be coming!” (I don’t know about you, but my mom would bring home sacks of fillet-o-fish on Fridays; it was a small thing, but it cemented a love of that sandwich in my mind, heart, and tummy forever.)
“Uh, honey?” Hubby replied, “Lent started last Wednesday.”
Last week the flu bulldozed it’s way through our house like a hot knife through butter. Or, maybe, a toddler through jello. We didn’t fare so well, is what I’m sayin’, so I guess with what felt like 7,000 hours of sickness in our little family last week, I can be forgiven for totally missing the start of Lent.
Truly, I run hot and cold with the thing. You know that I am insanely fond of anything that promises personal growth through painful, masochistic deprivation, (I have my eye on a poster that reads; “The Pressure is Good for You.”) so in that way, Lent is right up my alley. Most times though, the stuff we give up is pretty darn superficial and hasn’t, at least in my case, brought about any permanent change. (The only lasting result in last year’s diet soda ban is a reborn devotion to the stuff. Before Lent, meh, I could have one or not; since then, I have consumed at minimum a can a day.)
But then I read an article that made me think. The author (and can I find the article again? Nope.) spoke about just this topic, how we tend to give up these little things, missing the point that what we should be giving up are those tendencies, beliefs and actions that keep us from our higher selves. Or God, if you will. I may be justifying my own gluttony here, but I doubt it is my love of diet green tea ginger ale that is keeping me from reaching enlightenment.
So I’ve given up worrying. Bam. Cold turkey.
Well, anyways, I’m trying.
Right here, in the front of my brain, I believe that, yes, this is a mostly benevolent universe. That most people mean you no harm and that when hard times hit, it is possible to find a soft place to fall, be it into the comforting arms of family and friends or your own, hidden well of strength; that you can grab hold of misfortune and shake some sort of blessing out of it.
Snaking around the base of my skull, however, is that nagging, persistent sense of doubt and anxiety. I am keenly aware that when I open my eyes in the morning, I, like everyone else, have no firm guarantee of what the day will hold. I hate that.
The better, more optimistic me thinks, “It could be great! The weather’s beautiful, the kids are well, maybe you’ll get something good in the mail. PLUS tonight there’ll be wine!” (Okay, so I know ONE thing for sure.)
Sadly, most days I can’t even hear that voice. If the kids are healthy I’m worrying about their grades. I worry about the pooch of fat that sticks out over my misnamed “skinny” jeans. I worry that Rick Santorum is secretly sewing burkas for those radical feminists like myself who dare to venture outside the home or God forbid, get an education. I worry about the decreasing gas mileage of our minivan, the financial health of our business, and my genetic tendency to hoard magazines and plastic food containers.
Nothing in there remotely declares that Life is GOOD! And it is. It’s a freaking miracle every minute. It’s worry that is keeping me from my highest good, not diet soda. Although…given the studies on the potential detrimental health effects of artificial sweeteners, I may meet my maker a lot sooner if I don’t give the stuff up.
But I can’t worry about that right now.