40 Days to Change

I don’t really think that the Mum Challenge is a thing. Sorry. *Cue onslaught of angry mothers jumping the gun whilst I hum ‘Miracle’ from Minchin’s Matilda… The piccies of the little ones are very cute and often hilarious and being a mum is probably the toughest job, no doubt about it (from what I’ve seen) but I don’t understand where exactly the challenge part comes in. Is it carefully choosing which of your fav’s to tag? Or is it choosing which photos make your baby look the most darling and your family look like The Waltons? I’m not trying to be rude, although I seriously can’t help to be sarcastic. I just really don’t understand it as a challenge, it is fine as a tag ‘game’. The Cinnamon Challenge at least had some jeopardy to it, despite its utter stupidity. The Ice Bucket Challenge had charity. Is it motherhood itself? That would make sense. But no relatable testimonials adorn these photos. Instead it is just, to me, (a late-twenties not-quite-at-the-stage-of-wanting-kids-therefore-bitter-woman,) just an excuse to brag and bore.

I’ve been in search of a challenge that is real. January has gone and I feel like I have wasted a month (remember when I wrote that piece about enjoying relaxation in January?!) Now is the time to get the gears grinding and to get our teeth stuck into something to keep us going until it’s warm enough to sit in a beer garden. And what keeps us warmer than stewardship, eh? By stewardship, I mean the warm and fuzzy feeling of spreading peace and love and caring for the world that we inhabit. I mean action and ‘world goals’ and little things like taking the time to tell your colleague that you like their  hair or that it meant the world to you when they sent you that thoughtful card.

It’s Shrove Tuesday this month and this means pancakes, mainly. But actually it means the time of the year where we are supposed fast and pray, or so Christians believe. After the pig-out comes the lean days of Lent. A time to give up, or as it is now fashionable to do, to take something on– a challenge or a responsibility. I kind of feel the same way about this as I do about New Years’ Resolutions. Giving up chocolate is setting myself up for failure – it is never going to happen. And gifting myself Piano lessons isn’t really in the spirit of the holiday. It is about giving without expectance and about doing so without getting any glory for it – wut?! So that means not telling everyone in the office how you helped your co-worker with a mound of paperwork with a smug grin, or not talking about how you stayed on the phone all night with your sick family member ‘just in case.’ It is a private affair which doesn’t need to be tweeted or Instagrammed.

As people, never mind which deity we subscribe to, it is our duty to love one another. We should, wherever possible be helping each other to prosper, instead of making each other envious with our perfectly-pitched posts about our wealth of experiences – the digital version of the archaic and rather nauseating art of the Round Robin letter (I think they do it via email now…)

I’m terrible at being nice. Really. It truly pains me sometimes to exercise humility and just be happy for someone without secretly formulating a plan to best them.

So it was as I prepared an assembly for high school students about Lent, that I decided that I would take up the challenge of Lent, something I had only ever done to prove to others that I could and for people to go ‘Wow, you’re amazing’ at the end of it. My challenge this year comes in the form of 40 acts (from the 40 days of Lent which is actually 46 days if you don’t shirk the Sundays.) 40 Acts (http://www.40acts.org.uk/) is an initiative which posts ideas for making a difference in the world for the 40 days of Lent, the time where we are supposed to focus and re-align our goals, as well as help others to do this. I’m suggesting that the kids at school sign up too. You must do it too.

The tagline in the 40 Acts video is, ‘You are a small act of generosity with 40 days to make a difference.’ The skeptic alcoholics among us can see that as 40 days closer to beer garden shennanigans by the end or maybe we could just enter into the spirit of the season with an open mind and heart, ready to spread a little post-January joy as secret stewards of hope. Because, sometimes all we need is a flicker of light to make someone’s day.