Although I’m not really feeling happy. The day of fasting and abstinence on Ash Wednesday looms ahead. I try not to do too much carbs and partying on Mardi Gras, because I will just regret it. Plus, having those leftovers mocking me — no thank you!
Lent is less than 12 hours away…and I’m already feeling defeated. Even taking on the smallest of penances seems daunting.
That is the heart of Lent, though. It’s not about what *I* can do, but it’s closing the door, and turning inward to pray. It’s having conversation with God, bridging that communication as a child of God. It’s the Little Way of trust and confidence. I am completely dependent on Him, and He’s waiting for me to just come to Him as the helpless child that I am.
Is penance and mortifications necessary? In a word, yes. But if they earn individual bragging rights without roots with Christ, then they will gain nothing.
So if you’re like me and feeling a bit overwhelmed at tomorrow…and the next 42 days, here’s a small idea. If the idea of “giving up” is completely overwhelming, just decide to choose small mortifications throughout the day. So instead of “I give up all sugar”, when a dessert or sugar is in front of you, delay the instant gratification. Wait 15 minutes. And then wait 15 minutes more. Each time offer that as a gift to God. Don’t feel guilty if you do eat it. You’ve already offered two gifts of mortifications.
In other areas which are not as tangible but probably the hardest, such as being joyful, speaking kindly, less grumpiness, I need to have a plan in place. First of all, I’m asking my Guardian Angel to give just a little split second reminder to ask for grace before I open my mouth. I’m open to other suggestions. I have over my kitchen sink a reminder, Psalm 141:3: “Set a guard, LORD, before my mouth, keep watch over the door of my lips.”
What is most consoling is that even if I fall many times a day, God wants me to pick myself up and go to Him, my Loving Father, and ask forgiveness and the grace to try again. I will be the Prodigal Son for thousands of times a day!
So with that tool belt in place, let Lent begin! “I can do all things in him who strengthens me!” (Phil 4:13).