I don’t know about you, but I always enter into Lent with the best of intentions. I’m always excited when Lent begins, and I vow to pray more, to reflect more, to enter more deeply into who God calls me to be, to fast or give up something, to give more to the poor.
Then life happens. One of my favorite expressions is, “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.” I get busy. I run out of time at the end of the day. I forget. Or my own human nature gets the best of me, and I get lazy, filled with excuses. Or I sin knowingly. I have a million and one reasons for why I didn’t pray (much) today, why I didn’t fulfill my Lenten promise…..my list goes on and on.
Can you resonate with this in any way, or am I the only one to whom this happens?
Well, there’s some Good News for us.
First, God’s love and forgiveness is always available, even for those of us who fall off the Lenten wagon.
And second, Lent is not so much about perfection as it is about turning back to God. The goal of Lent isn’t that I had a perfect record of abstaining from soda (but if you did — hooray for you!). Lent isn’t even so much a personal improvement program (but if you personally improved — hooray for you too!). Lent is a time of purification, in which we sacrifice and pray in order to prepare our hearts, prepare for Easter — to turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel — the words that were prayed when we were marked with ashes on Ash Wednesday. We give up things, we pray, and we give to the poor in order to grow closer to God. So the Good News (actually, we ought to be calling this the GREAT NEWS) is that it’s never too late! If you fell off the Lenten wagon, hop back on. There’s plenty of time.
I’m going to take a huge risk in sharing with you my Lenten promise this Lent: It’s to work on being kinder. Now there are a few of you who will read this and think to yourselves, “Well, why would you do that? You’re pretty kind.” And there are others of you who will read that and say, “Well, it’s about time she started doing that.” (Shush, Gavin). And there are a few others who will look at this and say, “Hmmm….I ran into her yesterday, and she wasn’t as kind as she could have been.”
Yes, I know all of that. And all of that is true. Thankfully for me — and for all of us — the Great News is that God is always loving and forgiving. Every night, I ask forgiveness specifically for all the ways I wasn’t kind today. And even when I know I’ve failed, I know tomorrow is a new opportunity, and I pray for the grace that I might live out that promise — not just tomorrow, but always.
So how’s your Lent?