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.  



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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