I Failed at Lent

I’ll be honest with you. I totally bonked on Lent this year.

Over the past several years, the annual observance of Lent has been a very meaningful part of my spiritual formation. For me, Lent has been a time to experiment with different choices and disciplines. It has been a time for me to get out of my own rut. I’ve experienced great freedom and a rebirth of newness in my life through Lent.

But not this year.  

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Lent kind of snuck up on me this year. It started nine days earlier than it did last year, and I never really saw it coming. I pulled together an Ash Wednesday gathering for Vintage before I was mentally prepared for it. And I kicked off my Lenten observance without the energy for some kind of major change.

And so I went with a minor change. Something easy. Something I could handle. In the past, I have abstained from various things during the Lenten season. This year, I thought I would try engaging in a new behavior for Lent. I made a Lenten commitment I had never done before – I decided to read every day during Lent.

I love to read. I have a stack of books to tackle. I would love the excuse to make reading a higher priority. Not difficult but still meaningful.

Or so I thought.

For the first 10 days or so of Lent, I kept on track. I had reading on my to do list, and I kept my Lenten commitment. And then I started to get wobbly. I missed a day. And then I heard myself making excuses. And then I missed a couple of days in a row. And then the wheels completely came off.

This is the first time in my life that I have failed at Lent.

 

In previous years, I’ve looked forward to Easter because it meant I was released of my Lenten fast. In years that I had given up alcohol, for instance, I took great pleasure in my first glass of wine or beer with Easter dinner. A small part of my Easter celebration was the satisfaction that I had made it. And I relished rewarding myself.

I didn’t make it this year. I don’t have a stack of books to look at with great pride, knowing that I came, I read, I conquered. Instead, I have the realization that I bonked.

And I kind of feel like I am bonking at other things right now too. I weigh more now than I ever have. I’ve been eating like crap. And I’ve made excuses about going to the gym. Vanessa and I haven’t had a budget meeting in a while. And there are things on my to do list that have been just sitting there for weeks.

 

It’s a good thing that Easter isn’t just a celebration of Lenten success. It is also a celebration of our failure. It is a celebration that failure and darkness and death and bonking aren’t final. It is a celebration of new life, of second chances, or the newness of spring.

So tonight, on Holy Saturday, as I sit shiva for Jesus with my friends. I’ll also sit shiva for myself. Because I am dead too. Lent this year proved it. And tomorrow morning, when I gather again with my friends to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, I’ll celebrate my own resurrection too.

God’s mercies are new every morning. And I hope to feel this truth deeply in my soul this Easter morning.

 

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