Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Giving it Up for Lent

Lent started today, our own holy season of repentance and fasting. When I was a little girl, children would gather and figure out what they were going to give up, like chocolate, or coca cola, or candy. Mostly, in truth, it didn’t last too long. We meant well, we took it seriously, but we didn’t have the capacity for that kind of long term commitment – 40 days (and 40 nights, too; we don’t get time off from sunset to sunrise.)

As adults, we can be equally wacky, but in different ways. We can give up something that is too easy to give up. We can give up something and then obsess about it until it makes up a major focus of our day. If we are very fortunate, with prayer and God’s help, we can truly give up something meaningful and stick to it, offering it up as a spiritual sacrifice to God.

I had a blessing this week. It didn’t feel like such a blessing at the time, but a great deal of the time this week I was driving, and I had riders in the car.

I had no idea my language in the car had deteriorated so far. I’m a pretty good driver, but this is Kuwait. There are things that are out of my control. And I discovered that occasionally, bad words pop out of my mouth.

I can only guess that it happens when I am alone, too, but I am not conscious of it. All of a sudden, when some bad word pops out of your mouth and you are NOT alone, you become VERY conscious of it.

I’m giving it up for Lent.

At first, I was going to allow myself non obscene words like “Idiot!” “Imbecile!” and “What are you thinking??????” but after lengthy thought, I think it defeats the purpose. No. I am going cold turkey, no obscenities, no outraged exclamations.

Perhaps an elaborate “I forgive you” from time to time. . . . Pray for me!

February 21, 2007 - Posted by | Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Friends & Friendship, Kuwait, Language, Lent, Living Conditions, Spiritual


  1. oooooooh thats gonna be a tough one if youre gonna still hit the roads during lent!

    hehe good luck with that and happy lent, or whatever the appropriate greeting would be šŸ˜›

    Comment by skunk | February 21, 2007 | Reply

  2. lol thats part of fasting. A priest once told me its not important what goes in your mouth but what goes out of it that matters. i totally agree. i must admit its difficult… especially in my line of business… but am working on it. urgh

    Comment by rampurple | February 21, 2007 | Reply

  3. SKUNK – “I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue” (translation, yep, it doesn’t do me any good to give something up if I do not also continue in the very realm that brings on the temptation.) I don’t curse anywhere except on the road. Good luck is a good wish, and putting in a good word for me with the Big Guy upstairs is even better.

    Rampurple – I am so glad to see you here! I have enjoyed your blog for months now. I am in total awe of YOUR Lent, which is longer and harder than mine!

    Comment by intlxpatr | February 21, 2007 | Reply

  4. well,dear, I certainly wish you luck on that one. It will be tough šŸ˜‰

    Comment by jewaira | February 21, 2007 | Reply

  5. What a good idea to give up swearing for Lent. I may suggest it in the office where I work with several young men, who are young enough to be my sons although it’s usually me displaying a wider range of profanities – they never served any time in the Royal Air Force!

    Comment by mrschaieb | February 21, 2007 | Reply

  6. You have inspired me! May I (attempt to) follow in your footsteps? We can pray for each other in our insane driving environments. I’m even going to try to give up “Honey”, if you get my drift šŸ™‚

    Comment by Grammy | February 22, 2007 | Reply

  7. Mrs. Chaieb – you gave me a big laugh to start my day! Serving in the military gives you exposure to a whole new vocabulary, doesn’t it?

    Grammy – Yep, I could sure use your support. “Honey” was the first word on my list, followed by the word that usually follows “holy” and is not “smokes!” But the challenge is – can we give up expletives alltogether, even the acceptable ones? Will changing our language change our perceptions and ultimately, will we think differently?

    Comment by intlxpatr | February 22, 2007 | Reply

  8. It’s an interesting debate, isn’t it? how much is behaviour and perception influenced by language and how much is language influenced by our environment. If we change our language e.g. stop using expletives, will that alter the way we’re perceived by others? If it does, will it alter the way they respond to us? In turn, will it change the way we respond to them? Ultimately, will our personalities change?

    I never fully appreciated the power of language on emotions until I married my husband. English is his third language and so he uses it in different way to native speakers. He sometimes sounds as if he’s giving orders, which comes from the way Tunisians speak (very direct e.g. give me …. rather than Can I have etc) but there are also very amusing things ‘Oh, that was absolutely nice!’

    Comment by mrschaieb | February 24, 2007 | Reply

  9. Mrschaieb – You are absolutely right. When we change our words, everything can change. Attutudes, even our own, can change. Today, I was tempted . . . and resisted. Thanks be to God!

    I remember when I lived in Tunis, one of the most amazing experiences was the Hamam. Do the hamams still exist in modern Tunis? Is it still a normal part of life? We also took our own jars/containers to the olive oil man . . . I imagine now it’s all Carrefour and supermarkets.

    Comment by intlxpatr | February 24, 2007 | Reply

  10. I don’t know about Tunis but the hammams still exist in Hammamet and the rural areas, although they are increasingly under threat as more people are able to have bathrooms at home. It’s a shame that this is happening as they seem so integral to the social fabric – a way of women (and men) bonding. I thnk they’re more important for women as men have the coffee shops which women don’t use. It’s lovely going to the hot spring hammam in the mountains where in winter the women spend hours with the children. They take food and lots of fruit and spend ages in the bath, scrubbing each other within an inch of their lives and gossiping! The first time I went, being used to saunas, I went to pour cold water over myself and caused an outrage! A woman rushed up to me and snatched the bowl out of my hand and signed that basically, I would dies if I used cold water. My mother-in-law and all the other women thought it was such a strange idea. My husband thought I was out of my mind – didn’t I know that I could get a cold in my head and die doing something like that?

    So far large supermarkets haven’t taken over everything and in Hammamet you can still take your olives to be pressed and take any container you like to get the oil.

    Comment by mrschaieb | February 25, 2007 | Reply

  11. Oh! I love the idea of the womenand the children in the hot springs! I don’t remember ever seeing children in the hammam, but it was a very fun female group experience for me, unforgettable.

    I saw Hammamet/Nabeul recently and was shocked at how much growth has occurred. Tunisia is amazingly modern and affluent now, not small and sleepy any more!

    I hope you are keeping a journal!

    Comment by intlxpatr | February 26, 2007 | Reply

  12. […] by adiamondinsunlight on March 2nd, 2007 My aunt Intlxpatr posted ten days ago about her Lenten vow: better […]

    Pingback by geek piety: new Lenten vows « A Diamond’s Eye View of the World | March 2, 2007 | Reply

  13. […] As you know, I gave up bad language in my car for Lent. Yes, I could have given up chocolate. It would have been […]

    Pingback by Lenten Update « Here There and Everywhere | March 10, 2007 | Reply

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