It’s been twenty months…twenty months…since I’ve really let myself trip, stumble, and generally get all out of sorts over stupid things.
Well, let’s be honest: it’s been twenty months since I’ve decided to tell you about it.
This Lent I gave up shopping at three of my favorite places: Costco [where each item deposited in your cart is about $10], Target [where you want to spend about $10 but easily dole out $210], and the mall [where you skip the math and get out the plastic].
Five weeks later, I think all this non-shopping has started to catch up with me. I fear I may have developed a few ticks and eye twitches during this off-season, something that has only worsened as I peruse the latest Crate & Barrel catalog and faithfully dog ear every-0ther-page [as if I really could buy all these things if I wanted, but it's just a matter of locating my purse that's stopping me].
I’ll admit it: I look around and still love this house, but I’m starting to see the flaws more than the smile lines. I’m wishing for new countertops…and an ice maker in a fridge with a little more consistency than the slacker we have now. I can imagine a new backsplash with glossy subway tiles like you see on Dear Genevieve. I can effortlessly imagine away our stained carpet and replace it with the gleam of wall-to-wall hickory floors.
I know this discontent is shallow and worthless and completely without perspective. I know that the “Finley Pendant Lamp” I’d like above our dining room table isn’t going to make me happy, give me a flat stomach, make me funnier, or help me be a better friend. [Although I would like to argue that it would make our dinners a lot more stylish].
So why this lure? Why so many dog-eared pages?
I think I’m fooled into believing that if I own the Stoneware Potluck Bakers in “Paprika, Turquoise, and Yellow” that I’ll actually bake tasty dinners. And possibly be invited to potlucks.
I’m fooled into thinking that if I have the vases on page 18, I really will make more of an effort to arrange cut flowers weekly. Maybe even start a garden.
I’m drawn into this world of order, cleanliness, and new possibilities–as though an office desk equals a book contract or a chaise lounge equals the freedom to…lounge.
I’m drawn into thinking that these things would give me what I want and what I think I need.
And so this cycle of mental wrestling and pseudo-shopping bring me back to Lent–back to the reason I’m not shopping and back to the reason why I shouldn’t even be looking at catalogs: because during this season of preparation, I need to work on my heart. Work on desires that aren’t evil or sinful in themselves, but that give birth to so much more than I want floating around in my brain.
Balancing these things and staying twitch-free is something I’ll probably never master. For some it’s food and others it’s cigarettes and still others, alcohol. For me, this year, it’s Crate & Barrel.
But always, there’s the promise of grace. And this Lent, I’m realizing just how much I need it.
What are you learning about yourself this Lent? How are you being stretched or changed?