I grew up in the Bible belt, in a south Atlanta suburb. I didn’t know about Lent or a liturgical church year. My grandma was Lutheran and I went to church with her when she visited twice a year. All my school acquaintances were Baptist or Methodist. I sometimes visited their church when they were evangelizing.
I’ve come to see Lent as a time of reflection, personal growth, and study.
Looking back on these 7ish months, I realize I have changed, mostly for the better.
We’re in the countdown to homecoming with this second deployment.
Deployment is kind of like Lent, but for 215+ days instead of just 40 days.
Christian faithful are to do penance through prayer, fasting, abstinence, and by exercising works of piety and charity. All Fridays through the year, and especially during Lent, are penitential days.from Lent and Easter Obligations as posted on the Military Archdiocese Website
We approached this deployment not with trepidation, but with anticipation for personal growth, as much needed time apart. As an introvert, I used this time to recharge.
How I spent this deployment
Of course I pray for my deployed husband.
But having more free time on my hands without daily interaction with my husband, I found myself praying almost constantly. As an introvert and pretty quiet and introspective. It just became natural to talk to God.
I pray for my kids, their friends and acquaintances, their teachers and coaches.
I pray for The Church, our world and country leaders, minorities and those on the margins, nations in crisis, celebrities who are role models even if they shouldn’t be.
I pray for myself, that I will be softer, more humble, more loving, kinder.
I’ve discovered contemplative prayer and Lectio Divina and it’s really peaceful.
Ash Wednesday and Lent are seasons of fasting.
I couldn’t say it any better for any time of year:
While I do intermittent fasting to detox, I don’t necessarily recommend that for everyone. It works for me and I enjoy smoothies, tea, and water during the week. Weekends are for pizza!
I lost 25 pounds during this deployment season. I exercised every single day, drank lots of water and tea, ate vegan or vegetarian during the day, healthy clean dinners (often seafood), and fewer animal products overall. The weight just fell off.
The feminist in me feels the need to say that I did all this for myself. I want my health to improve. I’m developing arthritis. My parents take handfuls of pills multiple times each day. My aunt just passed away last week from Alzheimer’s. I want to do better. I want to live better. I want to be a better role model of health for my kids.
Abstinence is a self-enforced restraint from indulging in bodily activities that are widely experienced as giving pleasure. Most frequently, the term refers to sexual abstinence, or abstinence from alcohol, drugs, or food.
Well, this one is easy. He’s thousands of miles away. It’s easy for me to stay faithful. And I don’t believe in what happens on deployment, stays on deployment. We don’t have that kind of relationship.
Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.1 Corinthians 7:5
It’s also easier for me to eat what I want and how I want. I’ve eaten much healthier and more vegetarian. I hope to maintain that even after he returns home.
I do occasionally have a beer or glass of wine, but it’s been more for special occasions or with fancier dinners, and so much less than before. It’s no fun to drink alone. It feels wasteful not having my husband to share it with.
Yes, I can be rather an ascetic, but I’m learning to balance better.
Exercising body and soul. Almsgiving, piety, and charity.
Wholeness and generosity.
It’s all about getting closer to and loving God, others, and self.
I started physical therapy for knee arthritis. They straightened out my misaligned hips and taught me a lot of strengthening and core exercises.
I have maintained daily exercise since.
My son reminds me each evening by pulling my exercise ball out of the closet for me. I do stretches and strengthening exercises.
I also walk at least a mile every day or so, depending on temperatures. I can’t get out there if it’s below freezing. It just hurts my lungs to breathe that cold air.
I pinned some great online workouts.
I’m a pro at beating myself up.
I don’t need anyone to point out my errors, mistakes, sins. I do a great job of that all on my own.
I’m trying to heal. I’m reading up on narcissism, dysfunction, shame, anger, fear.
I will break this cycle.
I’m reading so much to get me out of my comfort zone. Books by indigenous and Black authors, books about decolonization, race, theology.
I’m so tired of the white woman memoir. I’m tired of the self-deprecating oh-woe-is-me mantra of those who identify as my peers. It feels like they’re asking for sympathy, camaraderie, connection…but it seems to me they’re just excluding those who don’t identify the same way.
I’m tired of reading a cleansed, whitewashed, imperialist history told by a Eurocentric and/or white American perspective. It’s actually really time-consuming and stressful to find proper texts and living books that teach the spectrum of perspectives of real history.
I want to hear the silenced voices.
I don’t want to make excuses for my whiteness nor do I want to perpetuate privilege. We can’t hide behind ignorance. I want to teach my kids a better way.
As we count down the days and hours until husband and father returns, we clean our hearts and minds and house in preparation for the return of our beloved and much missed family member.
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