Wednesday was the first day of Lent. I am reminded of this by my husband. He was raised Catholic, but attended my Baptist Church before our move, and now attends our Non-Denominational Church. I don't drink or smoke, and the only thing I could think to give up is my rare sweets. I recently heard about taking a different direction during Lent: Doing good. This would be easy peasy since I am addicted to volunteering and enjoy doing things to benefit others. I found many ideas on various blogs and am already doing many of them.
For starters, let's look at some of the less obvious things you might consider giving up:
Comparing yourself with others
Wasting your life on the internet
Checking your smartphone when you’re with people
Driving when you could walk
Then there are the ways to benefit others:
A chapter of the Bible a day. You can get through all 4 Gospels if you read 2 chapters a day and don’t skip Sundays.
10 minutes of meditation a day
Join a Bible study at your parish
20 minutes of Spiritual reading a day
List 5 things you’re grateful for every day
Make a schedule
Call your mother
Volunteer once a week
Give someone a compliment every day
Take someone to lunch every week
Perform an act of charity every day
Spend more time with family.
Give to the poor.
Each week write a thank-you note
Write a poem of praise for each person in your family.
Get a stack of sticky-notes and write one sentence of thanks each day and stick it to the bedroom door of each person in your family so that by Easter they each have 40 sticky-notes.
At dinner each evening ask your family to share one thing for which they are grateful.
Go for a walk each day with a loved one
Exercise each day.
Spend at least half an hour each day in meaningful conversation with your spouse.
Long, long ago I married my first husband. We had a rough start from the beginning of our dating, because he was always exploring his options with other women. But I was young and naive and hoped for the best. After we married, the cheating continued but otherwise we were happy. I just learned to accept the other women in his life, while he went about seemingly unaware that I knew. Then we had our son and I became completely devoted to my little boy, while his father continued his affairs. I had the distraction I needed to not think about his actions anymore.
Eventually he ended up seeing a co-worker. She was fired, but continued to see him. She had a baby by someone else during their almost two-year affair (it took her several years to figure out the exact paternity - not him). Then she told him he had to leave me for her. I heard him beg her over the phone not to make him go, but when he got off the phone, she came over, he got in her car, and was gone.
We agreed to remain friends for our son, but she didn't like that. She told me my son would be found in the bottom of the river if they ever had him come to their home for a visit, while the ex began acting erratically. The police, and his sister told me to get away. He cut me off financially so his sister sent me money to leave. I went to be near his Mom, who is still like a mother to me. He never attempted to see our son and only spoke to him on the phone when our son was nine years old. That didn't end well when his wife demanded to know why our son refused to tell her that he loved her, despite him never having any contact with her before.
They were married soon after he got a quick divorce from me. This resulted in his "Less Than Honorable" discharge from the Air Force, for committing adultery. He was give everything in the divorce because I didn't make the trip back to Texas. Everything: the piano I got in fifth grade, my parents' dining room set, the bookcases that my dad built, artwork of my parents, my personal items, our son's personal items and toys. Everything. But I got his Mom, his sister and our son. What I received was so much more valuable.
Over the years his wife would call or email me to say she wanted us to be one big happy family. She would be so nice for a while, gather information, then flip out and tell me to stop contacting her. She would contact my son and tell him his father wanted to speak to him, telling my son to call at a certain time. Only to not answer the phone, or tell him that his father had gone to bed. She did this over and over throughout the years. She even returned my son's graduation announcement and senior picture, marking it "refused".
She used the information that I told her about myself to recreate her misspent youth. She was a mom at sixteen, had a several year affair with her priest (resulting in a child), and cheated on my ex throughout their marriage. Bragging to me about these things, like she was daring me to try to tell the truth about her. Yet she recreated her story to take over the accomplishments that I did in high school. Making herself part of the band, school newspaper, plays, anything that I did became hers. After only winning back-child support in her suit against the archdiocese, she rode on the way-ward priest bandwagon by writing a poorly written book claiming she was abused by this priest, and refusing to admit the child was his.
She wrote letters and emails to my ex's family telling them lies about me, and convinced my ex that I had mental illnesses (although not being clear what they were). For some reason this was bad, despite her admitting to several mental illnesses herself. The reality was I had seen a psychiatrist twice. Both times it was during custody battles with the father of my younger children. The first time I was told that I was "mildly depressed". Not unusual for a mom fighting for her children. The second time I was told that I was "abnormally happy". But considering I knew my childrens' father would not follow through on the fight, it wasn't surprising. She began contacting my exes and the sister that never liked me (or him,for that matter). They began a strange friendship based on their dislike of me.
She and the ex wrote letters to my then-boyfriend telling him how crazy I am and how I only wanted his money. Ironic considering she was slathered in diamonds and bragged about buying $10,000 in clothes every month, as well as getting herself a Camaro for her birthday. While that boyfriend didn't have a penny to his name. Every dime spent in that relationship was spent by me on him. Yet, he fell for it and started calling me a gold-digger. She tried repeatedly to write a terrible comment about me on this blog (addressed to my readers), only to eventually realize that I have the settings so that I have to approve the comments.
She had my ex write a horrible letter to me, calling me all sorts of terrible things and saying that the abuse my son and I endured under the father of my other children was "Karma". This coming from a couple who had paid their way to becoming important to the local organization for abuse survivors. They bragged about how much they cared for everyone who had ever been abused and that the abuse anyone lives through should be taken seriously. Except mine and my son, we deserved it.
Her heavy drinking and drug use, combined with her Lupus finally took it's toll and she died last year. Unfortunately, My ex has been so brain-washed into believing everything that she has said over the last 22 years, that he thinks I am the terrible person who kept him from my son and that she was the only one who cared. He thinks my son had made no attempt to contact him, not knowing how many times that contact was attempted, but blocked by his wife. He has no idea that his wife was behind the lost years. He only recently came to see his mom after all these years. She wanted so badly to tell him how she had been in my home two of the times that his wife called, pretending to be nice, but then turned on me. She is afraid to lose him again. She wants him to see his son. She wants us to be a happy family: him, his children, her, myself, my husband, my son, my other children. She doesn't understand why there has to be hate.
But he has been told so much by his late-wife. I don't think he will ever believe the truth.