A Lenten Goal

When I started using Hay’s book, “A Lenten Hobo Honeymoon” as a reflection book for Lent, in it was a piece of paper with my “Lenten Hobo map” from a previous year. Hays suggest one keep a list of goals for the season. Many of the suggested categories, such as “Fasting & Penances” and “Almsgiving”, were Catholic orientated but I still was able to select some goals.

As I looked at that map I was reminded how I seem to pick the same goals every year. For example I always want to work with my prayer life. I ask myself, “Here I am again trying to grow in the same area as last year. Won’t I ever learn?” However, I realize I’m always on a journey and probably will want to grow in similar areas each year and this is okay.

One of my areas for growth this year (and last year as well) is my tendency to worry about what people think of me. “So-and-so thinks I’m not very smart,” or “She thinks my singing vibrato is too wide.” A big one for me is, “He thinks I need to be working.” A therapist once asked me why it matters. They don’t live in my body and haven’t had my experiences so if they really have a concern, they can ask. Plus, they’re probably not even thinking about me at all!

Y poolYesterday while swimming at the Y, I had the opportunity to work on this goal. I had the entire lane to myself which isn’t always the case. Often I swim on one side while someone else swims on the other. If I have a lane completely alone, I try to do the kick I use for the breast stroke since it is pretty easy to use more than half a lane for it and I don’t like accidently kicking someone.

However yesterday I didn’t do this. Since I cannot use my right hand to swim right now because I’m still strengthening it from my December hand surgery, I am working only on my kicks. Another member asked if she could join me in my lane but she didn’t want to swim by the wall. I realized trying to do the frog kick by the wall would be impossible without slamming my leg into it so I hesitated before saying, “Do you think you could use another lane right now?” I could tell she was mad at me and she muttered something under her breath before walking to another lane.

I felt TERRIBLE. I know how hard it is to ask someone to join their lane and I hate doing it but I’ve learned that part of swimming laps at the Y means sharing the lane. In fact someone once told me “no” and I was a little perturbed. So of course I spent swimming my remaining laps worrying about what she thought of me.

When I got out of the pool, I had an opportunity to talk with her. She’s someone I see and talk to regularly at the Y so it was important to me. It turns out; she was having a horrible day. Her car broke down that week so she was borrowing one. Plus, her mother had fallen and was in the hospital. Apparently the mother had always taken care of her father which made her inability to do so, a real issue. She was stressed out, hadn’t been to the pool in days, and the first person she asked about sharing a lane didn’t want to share. She even told me she had said, “f*** you” under her breath which of course I hadn’t heard.

I’m so glad I spoke to her. It’s true. People usually do have too much on their mind to even think about me. Hopefully, as Lent continues I’ll realize this BEFORE I begin my worrying.

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