Years ago, with a house filled with small children, a dog, a cat, a rat, a hamster and a husband who traveled for work, giving up something for Lent struck me as odd. How could giving up chocolate make me better when all I really wanted was Calgon to take me away? I decided that for forty days I would not be the source of conflict in my home. Even though I truly held The Norwegian responsible for my stretch marks and brutal Minnesota winters.
Biting my tongue proved a hard lesson. I did not gripe about his constant travel. I did my best not to raise my voice with my children. I forced myself to accept that frigid winter temps, muddy dog prints all over the carpet and the constant stickiness that goes hand in hand, and pocket and purse, with toddlers was not anyone’s fault. In turn everyone in my house became less stressed. Not that they stopped screaming, whining or putting things in their noses; they just became less stressed. As did I. Kind of like accepting the crazy and rolling with it.
Since then Lent serves as a path to something. I try to give up something meaningful then stand back and see if life changes for the better. If not, lesson learned. Regardless of the outcome, I still get wine and chocolate during the season.
Perfect Blonde and I discuss this at a recent wedding shower for a YaYa Chicken. Her Babiest Chicken stands near us. I say this year I gave up judgement; the goal being to see the better, become less critical of others and things I may not understand. Except for your outfit. I can’t help myself. I have, though, kept those thoughts to myself. Okay, a couple of times I told one of the cats about a particularly heinous fashion crime but other than that–I’ve kept it in check.
Perfect Blonde says, “Did you remember yourself in that no judgement?” Whaaaa? That’s why you keep YaYas close. They say the darndest things. Puzzled etches across my face.
“We judge ourselves the hardest,” she says. “So that non-judgement better include yourself.”
And her Babiest Chicken pipes up with this gem. “When it happens, I say to myself, ‘Don’t talk to my friend (insert your own name here) like that.” From the mouth of babes. She adds, “I would never let someone talk about you the way you talk to yourself so I stop it right there.” Again, babes, mouths. Profound.
Unlike the year I thought not buying shoes might teach me patience and thriftiness, the judgement one has come with lessons. I am astounded at the number of times I criticize myself. The list is endless. My ass, my clothes, my curves, my no curves, my skin, my career, things I say, things I don’t say, what I eat, how fast I run (well that one really has no effect on me), my social life. The list goes on and on; a dialogue without end.
If we believe it’s best to lessen our judgement of others, shouldn’t that judgement include ourselves? Perhaps the real Lenten lesson is to recognize we all struggle. Kind of a Catholic Girls namaste. Mine recognizes yours and I will not judge you for it.
Except those shoes. I am only human after all.