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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ramblings

So far this Lent, we've seen one of our children grow incredibly already. Dominic chose to give up leisure reading for Lent. We have talked about how the things we give up for Lent are not bad or unlawful things (or we couldn't freely pick them up again at the end of Lent), but good things to which we have too strong an attachment. Things that draw us away from God, from the people we are to love and serve and that keep us from doing as we ought. Dominic is a great reader, as am I. He loves books. That is something we have in common. However, he is often distracted by his reading from doing the things he knows he ought, or from even hearing instruction. I did not ask him to do this, or even suggest it as one of a number of options, Rich never had that talk with him. All we said was to be thinking of what to give up for Lent, and a brief overview of the purpose and similar summary to what I wrote above.

As we were getting ready to leave last week, I was gathering library books to take back and asked if the children were finished reading a few of them. Dominic told me he wasn't, but to take them back anyway. I was a little surprised at this and asked why, since he hadn't read them yet, and he said that was what he had given up for Lent. He was able to make a good examination of self and determine that this is something that draws him from greater good. We were rather proud that he thought this through so well and came up with it on his own.

On the other hand, we have a child who is our little legalist. She is so concerned with the rules and the minutiae of the rules. This is not entirely bad. She wants to follow the rules and do what is right, which is more than admirable. She is the girl who was concerned that we were breaking the Lenten laws when her two year old sister gave out imaginary cookies to us all last year during Lent. So, this year, she told me she wanted to go a step further than she had last year. Instead of giving up only board games, she wanted to give up all the games. I understood her to mean that she was going to forgo board games, puzzles, etc, that were in our game boxes. We had a sad surprise this weekend when we were able to visit with some friends whose youngest son is about her age. She came down close to tears to ask Rich what to do about playing a game with him, as she had given it up for Lent. Further questions led us to understand that she intended to give up all games of play, video, tag, board, puzzles, all of it. She is seven. Rich told me to have a little theological chat with our daughter, once our friends had left. So, I did. I explained that while it was admirable and touching that she was willing to sacrifice so much and that she wanted to stretch herself that since she was so young, she wasn't required to give up anything, it was just a practice we wanted her to get used to doing, that it was too much for someone so young to give up playing entirely, that playing was part of how children learn, that neither God, nor we, wanted her to be miserable for seven weeks to prove anything. She replied tearfully that she thought we were supposed to do hard things. I told her we were supposed to challenge ourselves as a discipline, but that this was too strict. Our fasting and sacrifices were to model ourselves on the Lord and to remind us how we need God. We suggested that she back off and think of something else to give up, or specifically designate games she would give up, Rich suggested giving up riding her bike if she wanted to do something hard, but not overly taxing and demanding. She agreed to change her plan, and is now abstaining from bike riding instead.

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