WARNING: This post contains many, many LOLcats!!! (Possibly too many!)
This last week I seem to have been too busy to post about the final 7 or 8 Acts, and I have also found them much more difficult to personally relate to. The first Acts were very practical – handing out chocolate, writing post-its and encouraging notes – which were relatively easy to do. The last ones have been less straightforward, requiring more thought and reflection, and some soul searching too.
I haven’t found them so easy, either to find a way “into ” them, or to actually complete. I think that, in a way, they are things to be pondered on. Just as a dog is for life, not just for Christmas, so 40 Acts isn’t just for Lent. It is designed to change our attitudes, our mindset, so that we see opportunities for generosity, for forgiving, for letting-things-go where we would not have perceived them before. And so I hope it has.
I won’t post all the details of the Challenges for each day I’ve missed, but here’s a summary, with a link for each to the full reflection:
DAY 33: Scrap the Schedule: “Busy” is nearly overtaking “Fine” as the standard response to “How are you?” There aren’t enough hours in the day; you’re rushed off your feet; you simply haven’t got time. We’re all a little guilty of making ourselves too busy. It’s probably high time we slowed down and refocused our energies on the people & things that matter. Spend today doing what someone else wants.
I haven’t done this…I do sometimes feel I’m too busy to give time to others when actually the things I’m “busy” with are either things just for me, or things which can wait. This is definitely one to be stored away, so that I remember it in future. One of my “victims” is Mr FD – I need to be open to listen to him more.
DAY 34: Carbonate: Be honest, how lightly do you tread on the earth? Our lifestyle choices make up our carbon footprint and there’s merit in knowing whether we’re wearing dainty slippers or clod-hopping boots. This act is about taking the first steps in being generous to God’s creation.
This Act is about considering our impact on the earth. As a two-car family, we need to consider how this can be off-set. I have started to try to use less plastic, but I need to commit to this more I think. Further reflection needed.
DAY 35: Bite Your Tongue: It’s so easy to let cutting words slip out. The problem is that the effect of our verbal stings can resonate with other people for a lot longer than we expect. The good news is twofold. First, we can learn to hold back when it’s tempting to deliver a put-down. Second, our words can also be generously kind, and these words also resonate – sometimes for entire lifetimes.
Oh, yes. This one is one to really work on after Lent too. This is certainly NOT a one-day-only event. I don’t think I am too bad wth the verbal put downs and spreading of rumours (although I am rather too fond of listening to gossip.) but I am not very good at the encouraging words – except with my students, of course. Encouragement can be as uplifting as put-downs can be devastating: I need to cultivate one.
DAY 36: Do the Dirty Work: Heads up: you might want some rubber gloves for this one. Unblocking the sink, cleaning the toilet, scrubbing the oven. Plenty of domestic chores we routinely avoid or pass off to someone else. So today, sign yourself up for the job nobody else wants to do in your household. And if you happen to be the only member of your household, see if you can do the dirty work for a neighbour instead.
Our household is not very keen on housework. We’re reasonably hygenic, but certainly not tidy! I swear that Mr FD is to blame, he reckons that when I’m away the house is much tidier – I guess that means that it’s both our faults! I do have a tendency to think “I did that (whatever “that” is) last time” or “It’s his mess, he can clean it up!” so my reaction to this must be to stop with the totting up of who did what and when, but just do it.
DAY 37: Heavy Lifting:The guy who created the Knock Knock jokes deserves a ‘no bell’ prize (Ba-dum-tsch! You’re welcome, we’re here all week, etc. …) Today is April Fool’s Day, so feel free to steal that dreadful joke if you’ve got no others up your sleeve. For some people, though, today won’t be particularly bright and breezy. Some people are carrying heavy burdens. Could you try to lift someone’s load today, and make life a little lighter?
Part of this Act was to consider mental health issues, but also about having time to let others unburden themselves. I like to think I’m a good listener, but that’s not really for me to say. However, this again is another store-it-up-for-reflection Action, I think. Mental health issues are a reality for all of us, and knowing what to do and how to be with someone with such problems is really important.
DAY 38: Open Up: Armour off, folks. Today is about vulnerability. Sometimes we need to let our guard down to allow others to do the same. Everyone has their own struggle, and sharing those stories can often open up a generous way for others to talk about theirs.
This is a tricky one to get my head round. I can see where it’s heading, but I’m not totally sure of the logic behind it. But, again, I will try to take it on board for the future… Being open to admitting one’s own failures can make a difference to others.
DAY 39: Write Off: Good Friday is good because we get something undeserved. Freedom; a clean slate; a fresh beginning. Maybe today is a good day to extend the favour? Cancel an IOU and write off a debt that’s owed to you today. It might be a tenner you loaned someone, a promise as yet unfulfilled or something more significant that caused a rift in the past. In the words of Frozen’s Elsa, ‘Let it go.’
Hmmm…The only debt that I can think of that is owed to me is over 1,000€ owed by a company who has not paid me for work I did for them. I am about to start legal action to recover this debt, and I’m sorry, 40 Acts but I am not letting this debt go. And I don’t think that’s what it’s about anyway.
What it is about is not holding grudges, about not remembering what someone did in the past that hurt you so badly…Generally I can let stuff like this go, although there was one event that took me a l-o-n-g time to forget. In fact, it’s not forgotten even now, but I think I can say it’s forgiven.
Considering what Christ did for us and how this (should) affect how we react to others is something that we need to reflect on every day of our lives.
DAY 40: Undercover: We’re here! Today is Holy Saturday, and tomorrow Christians celebrate the most generous act in the world. So, with that in mind, the culmination of our 40 day journey ends with this: do something today that’s more generous than anything you’ve done in the last seven weeks, and do it anonymously.
I have no idea. None whatsoever. I can’t just “magic” an Act like this out of nowhere – I appreciate that this is linked to what 40 Acts has been about, and more specifically to God’s unimaginably generous gift to the world, but my mind has gone a complete blank. Whatever this Act needs to be – and there’s the rub, it’s not just a Think-of-something-and-do-it but something that needs doing! – I can’t think of anything to do that doesn’t seem trite and false and “manufactured”.
So, maybe this will be another Action where I wait for God’s push-in-the-back, meanwhile thinking and being open to His promptings.
And at the end of 40 Acts I think that I have started to open the door a little more to God’s promptings to be more generous than I have been…although it doesn’t always work, as an incident on Thursday proved to me. I don’t need to share it here,except to say that I now need to forgive myself for not doing something.
It has been an interesting journey, which has also taught me a bit about myself. It has introduced me to some new blogging friends (Yes, Helen, that’s you!) and it has given me a mission to continue through the year: Ninja note leaving has started to become really important to me & I feel a bit naked if I go out without a few ready prepared postcards in my handbag. So that is my 40 Acts 2015 legacy to the Roanne area of France: encouraging postcards left in unexpected places!