Instead of “giving up” soda, or Facebook, or chocolate, I decided that this year I would add intentional prayer to my routine as a part of my Lenten practice. I have come to understand Lent as an opportunity to “make room” for God in the busyness of life, and dedicating a moment each day to prayer seemed like a fool-proof way to create space for and with the Divine.
It was a good idea. Unfortunately, it remains just that…
The past few weeks have been long, hard, and busy. I have failed to practice a time of intentional prayer during every twenty-four hour period… I mean, there have been a few good days where I kept my bargain, but they are few and far between… On some days, I forgot my dedication to the season. On others, I ignored it. Who needs one more thing to do, or not do, anyway?
I know I’m not alone. I’ve spoken with many who started strong in their holy arithmetic (addition or subtraction, get it?) and have now fallen short. We shrug our shoulders and go on. Some of us keep trying, and some of us give up… Lent can sometimes feel like one more thing we’re supposed to do that’s just not worth doing.
But looking back over this season of Lent, I find myself frustrated I couldn’t stick with the program. Not because I’ve lost some sort of bragging rights, but because I’ve missed out… I’ve missed out on truly sacred moments with God. I’ve allowed my over-anxious brain to deprive me of peace and the awareness that comes with sitting close to that which is Holy. I wish I would have slowed myself down.
I wish, I wish, I wish…
The problem with wishes is that they don’t always lead to actions. We can wish that we would have done better. We can wish we’d been transformed. But unless we take action, we are only-always-ever wishing.
So here’s what I propose. First, when we fall, we get back up. We may not have a perfect track record. That’s okay. What’s important is that we do keep trying. Second, we must come to realize that the spirit of Lent in which we seek the Divine and presence of the Sacred is an attitude we can and should embody throughout the year. Though the liturgical season of Lent may end after a forty-day period, the desire to draw close to God should grab us tightly through all seasons of our faith. In other words, we can “keep trying” all year long.
In these last few weeks before Easter, I hope we will give ourselves the grace to forgive our missteps and the courage to keep on trying—trying to find God in the midst of our busyness, to better embody Christ’s love, to mend the brokenness of our world, to mend the brokenness in ourselves. Trying is believing? Maybe.