My friend held his numeric counter. The couple of days we spent together, his thumb counted my mess ups. I was losing at Lent. What I gave up? Words. Lying words, cursing words, judgmental words. Every remark that erupts from my heart, overflows the tongue, and bursts through the lips.
Not even a week into my spiritual practice, and failing. Failing bad.
Click. Click. Click. He continued to count with a smile. Attempting to do better, I push myself; Dawna, for every slip up, you will add an extra day to your Lenten discipline of taming your tongue. My count to date: twelve additional days.
He was having too much fun. Click. “Oops.” “Damn it!” Click. His thumb never tiring, my patience fraying. How can I do this? Then I read the sweet words in my Lenten devotional.
“The most perfect Christian is to herself but a beginner. This beginning again, this surrender, is one way to start living the Beatitudes.”
So I continue. I give this small surrender to Him each moment. I push through because this practicing, not only strengthens my friend’s thumb, it fortifies my heart. It asks questions: How am I using words? Are words important? Is the scripture true that says, What the mouth speaks, the heart is full of? It teaches me to practice, just practice and you’ll get better without even knowing it. Don’t quit. Don’t beat yourself up. Keep implementing.
I ditched adding on additional days for each slip up. Not because my Lenten season would last all of 2015, but because it seemed a punishment to myself rather than awareness—and awareness is what it’s about. My new counting consists of counting to three before responding. Now, let’s see how it goes.