Megan Swaim shares what convinced their family to embrace inconvenience and how it can help you have a better Lent.
For the past few years I’ve been wrestling with my attachment to convenience. And by that I mean my constant search for and reliance on any little thing that promises to make my life easier, more pleasant. A quick look around the house yields evidence of this dependence: kitchen gadgets, organizational systems, frozen prepared meals, and an array of devices and apps to help me work smarter, not harder. But sometimes my dependence on convenience actually makes my life harder.
I remember having a meltdown a few years ago unloading groceries and walking them up to our third floor apartment - I huffed and puffed up the stairs, dropped a bag while trying to find my keys, surrounded by what felt like a dozen (actually 3) crying children—and thought that it shouldn’t be this hard to get the weekly provisions. The absurdity of that thought stopped me in my tracks. I wasn’t growing my own food like Ma in Little House on the Prairie, I wasn’t making everything from scratch like my great-grandparents. I was just going to the grocery! And still, that felt too hard, like a problem that needed to be solved so that I could get back to a happy life. Modern life and my own attachments taught me to look for a solution to any point of resistance or discomfort in life—there’s a hack for that, an app for that.
The real problem with my attachment to convenience is that it doesn’t make my life easier. It just makes the normal, unavoidable challenges of life feel more inconvenient: sick babies, traffic, lost belongings, late deliveries. It also keeps me from exercising those spiritual muscles like patience, gratitude, generosity and abandonment to God’s Providence.
In the time since, I’ve been actively looking for ways to lessen my reliance on convenience and practicing saying yes to things that feel inconvenient. Some weeks that looks like making do with what’s in our pantry, other weeks it looks like making a meal for a neighbor or getting rid of things we don’t really need. I’ve chosen not to use grocery pick-up or delivery because I know that the inconvenience of the trip to the store makes me more thankful for my food and conscious of the needs of the poor.
These little choices are actually making a difference in my heart: they stretch those muscles that help me handle the normal bumps of everyday life with grace and kindness.
I wanted to share that with you all as we begin the Lenten season together. I am certain that my family isn’t the only one that struggles with this. Lent could be a really good opportunity to embrace as penance the everyday inconveniences of life. It could be as simple as choosing a convenience to abandon each week: the microwave, Prime shipping, Alexa, prepackaged foods, productivity trackers, smart devices.
Taking a break from even a few of these can help us enter into the desert and quiet us so that we can hear and respond to God.
Copyright 2022 Megan Swaim
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About the Author
Megan Swaim is an Indiana girl on an east coast adventure. A former high school youth minister, she now gets to minister full-time to her three young daughters and her husband Josh. Megan spends her days homeschooling at the kitchen table, drinking iced coffee, and exploring coastal Virginia.