From relationships to thoughts to physical belongings, we’ve spent the last several weeks thinking about decluttering our lives. We’ve talked about all the different behaviors that can help with this massive undertaking, from meditation and journaling to prayer and donation. But we haven’t talked about keeping up these habits. As Lent (and this message series with it) comes to a close, it’s important to devote some time to thinking about how we’re going to maintain all these new goals. If you’ve never meditated and prayed over your relationships, or if you have a stack of mail and papers dating back longer than you’d care to remember, staying focused on minimizing the clutter can be difficult.
So how can we take all the things we’ve talked about this Lent and bring them forward into Easter? Once, someone reminded me that we don’t give up something for Lent only so that we can gorge ourselves on it come Easter (hello chocolate, looking at you), but that we give up things so that we might be more mindful of them as we reintroduce them into our lives. Since it would be pretty difficult to keep up all the things we’ve talked about, choose one. I’m choosing one, and I’m going to focus on making it a meaningful part of my life.
Let’s make decluttering something we focus on every day for 10 minutes, or every week for 60 minutes. Devote that time to cleaning off a countertop, folding laundry, or putting away dishes you might otherwise leave. Devote that time to taking stock of the thoughts in your mind, praying strength into your relationships, or meditating. Make an effort to keep a practice of continuous decluttering; starting is the first hurdle, maintaining is the second. If we maintain, we never have to start again.
But how do we actually maintain? Having another person to keep you accountable, setting alarms to remind yourself, or keeping an accountability journal in plain sight all might help. When we have another person holding us to our commitments, we’re much more likely to continue them (for some reason, we tend to be excellent at justifying our own excuses).
Everyone knows that alarms drag you out of bed in the morning — what about reminding you of other things? Changing the label on your phone alarm from “Alarm” to “Meditate” or “Prayer Journal” can result in fabulously hard-to-ignore reminders. Putting the journal you pray in or meditate with in a conspicuous place also works — you’re much more likely to write in it when it’s on your nightstand or hall table than if it’s buried deep in a drawer.
Last week, a friend gave me a shirt that reads “Live with intention.” I think it might’ve been a sign to remind me to live into my Lenten goals, to keep them a part of my life (even though it’s not Lent anymore), and to remember that the benefits I’ve seen from focusing on them in the past few weeks are only going to continue to multiply the longer I stick with them. Together, let’s live into Lent always.
--Claire Kosewic, Staff Bulletin Writer
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