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.
Donna Reidland says
It sounds like it has been time well spent!
Rebecca Hastings says
What a beautiful, thoughtful perspective on deployment. I admit, I don’t have any military in my close family, and I have always thought of deployment as a terrible burden to suffer (especially as the person who is left at home). You have shifted my thinking that it can be a full, blessed time!
Praying God continues to fill you up during this time and your family can celebrate this season upon your husband’s return!
Thanks so much!
Jessi's Design says
Way to go! Staying busy has to help!
I am so inspired by Pope Francis’ words about fasting. I will keep them in mind this Lenten season. I am also fasting (from food) each Friday in Lent from sunup until sundown. So wonderful to read about how you are using deployment as an inspiration for personal and spiritual growth.
Wonderful ideas for Lent! Fast from negativity. Happy Spring, Kippi #kippiathome
Alice V-DIYerfy says
I think I learned more about real history as an adult than I ever did as a kid in school. I never knew that the majority of cowboys during the wild west were Mexican or black. I never knew that there was even an all-black town that was built so that they could have a safe place to live. I also didn’t hear anything about the Vikings coming to America first or the fact that there is petrified hand prints that are millions of years old which would put the human race far older than what textbooks say we are.
While it does suck that your husband is gone on deployment, I see that this is giving you time to invest in yourself in ways that you want to invest. Thanks for linking this up with us at #OMHGWW!
I’m not catholic, so I never really observed Lent. But I so appreciate your thoughts here – how time away from what is comfortable can draw us closer to God and shape our perspective. And that He is with us all the time.
Thanks for sharing. Stopping by from a linkup.
These are such beautiful reflections. I love how you’ve taken a difficult time (that I might have used as an excuse for self-pity and sloth) and turned it into an opportunity for healing and growth. I’m inspired by your words.
Laura Thomas says
Thanks for sharing your time of growth with us… sounds like you have it beautifully balanced! Stopping by from #faithonfire
These are great ideas that everyone should try. Thanks for sharing your journey with us at Merry Monday!
Tina at Mommynificent says
Good words. Thanks for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday on Mommynificent.com!