Lent With a Four Year Old: Radical Self Love

Edie and I went to a great Children’s Service to celebrate Ash Wednesday this evening. Before I went I was hesitant because with my dad’s dying I feel I’ve had enough mortality reminders. However, it’s important to me for Edie to have a spiritual practice and we haven’t been to church in a few weeks.

So we went and it was just right. Being part of a Liturgical church means you do the same rituals and prayers over and over again. I find this comforting and reassuring. I also find that each time I participate I experience or learn something new.

This year I need Lent to be about self care, self love, and radical self acceptance. This was the message that resonated with me this evening. Maybe it will resonate with you and your family too.

Self Care

This is such a buzzword these days and as with all buzzwords this one can seem hollow and cliche. In a spiritual sense, self care is one that requires an investment of time and often patience. This Lent we are committed to taking care of ourselves by attending services, and being fully present for each other. It means that as a family we allow each other the time to do things that are nourishing: exercise, napping, meditation, running. We will take care of ourselves and we give each other space and time to do so as well.

Self Love

I want so desperately for Edie to love herself. This is always my top priority. In part, this is because this is one of my own struggles. In a Spiritual sense in the Christian Church we are reminded in Lent that we are claimed by God in our Baptism and that we are enough simply because of that. We are literally made of stardust. We are everything we need to be. We are beloved. This was what I explained to Edie tonight.

The cross on our forehead was a reminder not just of our mortality but that we are connected with the Earth and every person and thing that was ever alive. We are dust! (Said with enthusiasm and excitement and without somber dread). We don’t have to try and be anything that we are not. We are loved. In loving ourselves we do a better job of loving others, of forgiving others, of being grounded and connected with everyone and everything we meet.

Self Acceptance

Traditionally Lent is a time of sacrifice, confession, renewal, and reimagining. When we accept ourselves and teach our children to do so we accept that we are not perfect. We are enough but we all have things we can work on: being more kind, working harder for social justice, speaking up more about racism, welcoming transgender folks to our communities more, demanding healthcare for all, saving our planet from the effects of climate change. This Lent we should work at overcoming all of these “sins”.

However, we must accept that we are human. Our children are humans. Our spouses or partners are humans too. Everyone we come in contact with is. We accept and forgive others as we accept and forgive ourselves. Lent is a time to let our best and most authentic self feel love and acceptance even as we strive to improve.

This Lent I want to deepen my connection with my husband and Edie. I want to ground myself and feel connected to all life in the universe: past and present. I want to accept others for who they are. This Lent I want to make more room for love. This Lent I want Edie to know what it means to be accepted exactly for who she is and to love herself and everyone else a little bit more because of it.

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