Addition

I was good at arithmetic when I was a kid, I was the champ of my fourth grade math class, even beat the boys, and that was tricky back in my elementary school days because there was a lot of favoritism and sexism and the boys ruled. But before I boast one more second and live on in the glory of my 10-year-old math brain I’ll let go of that tangent and instead share what I’ve been thinking about, a different kind of addition. It’s easy to hear people these days talk about “giving up” something, sacrificing or fasting, sort of subtracting something from the norm. I’ve decided I’m adding this season not subtracting. I’ve been thinking about my life and I think it needs to expand and if I believe the whole point of any season, especially the Lenten season is to grow closer to God I think I need to work on becoming more and I’ve decided this season I’m not going to do that thru less.

In certain phases and stages of my life I’ve felt “practicing” my faith an obligation, sort of like when you’re a child and your Mother makes you take something to the house of the old person down the street. Your first reaction is to say no, then whine about how their house smells funny and they talk too much. She insists you do it and when you go in the house and the woman greets you at the door sitting in her wheel chair you are creeped out, scared because you are alone with her. She’s so grateful that you have brought her the newspaper and her mail you think she’s faking her excitement because how could it be that big of a deal. Not until you are a grown woman dealing with your own physical challenges do you realize how complicated it can be some days to get your mail in or what a comfort it is to have someone bring you something that you can’t easily manage for yourself.
Your Mother made you visit that woman and run errands for her and it took a long time before it didn’t feel like an obligation, until you didn’t mind going, until you actually sat down in the lady’s home and ate a piece of candy that she offered every time you went. It took a long time to not notice the funny smells and to talk to her. Eventually it was easier and your relationship changed. You grew and it was no longer a burden, she had become your neighbor and by the time you were a teenager you never thought twice about stopping at her house to check on her. Your Mother knew what she was doing all along and it seems to me it’s sort of like that with faith. If you hang in there and do the routine, unpleasant, tedious stuff, the boring stuff, the creepy stuff you eventually get to know God and yourself a lot better than you did when it was only drudgery. God feels like your friend because you invested in the relationship. So it seems to me I’m going to add things this Lent, not deduct. My heart needs to grow wider, my attention needs to focus on more than me, my mind needs to expand. So everyday I’m going to research something I know nothing about and learn more about something new every day. I’m going to double up on some of my “practices” that bring me joy. I’m going to add more to my life, grow my mind and heart and hopefully deepen my faith. I’m spilling all of this to you because accountability is a big part of any new endeavor. You are going to keep me honest.

I’ll let you know in 40 days how I did. Happy Lent!

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