We are one third of the way through Lent . . . how goes things, my friends? Are you ready to throw in the towel yet? Are you sitting on the edge of a HUGE pile of Lenten guilt over not have being able to keep up with what you’re promised yourself (and God) you would do this Lent?
Have no fear. You are not alone. I am standing right there with you feeling like a total Catholic failure wondering how something so simple as giving up dessert could turn me into a Lenten beast who does nothing but seek out every confection within a five mile radius of home. The cupcakes actually mock me as I walk by the bakery section of the grocery store so much so that just yesterday, I bailed and had not one, but two delightful little numbers. How did this happen to me? How am I going to get back on that Lenten train of self-discipline and self-sacrifice?
Here is what I have learned over the course of 40 Lents . . . yes, I am that old.
If you fall, just start again.
Jesus fell three times when He was on the road to Calvary. What did He do? He got back up again. If you fall down with chocolate on your face, then offer a different sacrifice for the remainder of the day and start again the next day. You are human and failure happens. Don’t give up and walk away defeated. Just keep going. God will give you the grace and the determination to see this through. One day at a time.
Every season is different.
Don’t compare this Lent to last Lent. You are a different person this year. Your family is in a different place. Your faith journey is more mature. Every year I grow in confidence of my ability to make it through these 40 days. Every year God asked more of me without me even realizing it. There have only been a handful of years where I have made it to the end with my Lenten sacrifice completely intact but I still tried and did the best I could at the time. So be bold in the sacrificing but also pay attention to the prayer and almsgiving aspect. It’s a tripod for a reason, my friends. Let those three goals work in conjunction with one another.
If one sacrifice is proving too difficult, try changing things up.
Yes, I understand the whole point of a Lenten sacrifice to give something up for ALL 40 days but sometimes given your season in life, it doesn’t work out that way. If your sacrifice becomes so burdensome that you become locked in a state of self-shame and discouragement over your failure to keep it and you end up turning away from God, then stop. This is NOT what He wants. Pray about it. There have been years where my stress level was so high, and my life so complicated, I knew I couldn’t make it 40 days with one thing, so I broke it up. I gave up one thing for seven days at a time. I switched it up and I made it through those 40 days without shame or regret. I don’t do that every year by any means but there were a few that this really helped me. There was another year that I gave up nothing. With the help of my spiritual director, I realized that my daily life was a sacrifice and that God just wanted me to walk with Him that Lent, praying my way through that very difficult season.
Every year is unique with its spiritual, emotional and physical challenges. The grace that comes from just doing your very best is awesome. The grace that comes from wrestling with the things that block our path to God is even more fruitful. You can do this!! You’ve got four weeks left. I promise you that God will meet you where you are.
YOU got this my sisters. I’m praying for you. Pray for me too won’t you? There’s a sale on Dove Chocolates this week, and it just may take me out.
Written by Mary Lenaburg. Find out more about her here.