A New Approach to My Lenten Promise //
I said it on my Instagram two weeks ago but I’m going to say it again – I am not a fan of Lent. I know so many amazing people who absolutely love it and love the fasting and the sacrifice but honestly I just always end up leaving Lent feeling like a failure because I didn’t stick to my Lenten fast. But this year I heard a priest talk about Lent in a whole new light and I wanted to share it with you.
To be honest, there was a part of me that just assumed Lent was supposed to make you miserable and you were just supposed to deal with it. You give up your favorite things as a sacrifice because Jesus also had to be miserable in the desert for 40 days and that is that, but wow is there so much more. I was talking to my spiritual director about what I should be giving up for Lent and he just look at me and said, “Lizzy, Lent isn’t about simply giving things up, it’s a period to grow in virtue and weed out unhealthy habits that keep you from loving God perfectly.” As soon as he said that I wanted to slap myself in the forehead because it is so obvious! Our God doesn’t want us to suffer! That isn’t the point of any of this… it is all about growing closer to Him and growing in holiness.
Lent isn’t about simply giving things up, it’s a period to grow in virtue and weed out unhealthy habits that keep you from loving God perfectly.
So how do we do this? Take some time right now to read Matthew 18: 7-9:
“Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the man by woe the temptation comes! And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it from you… and if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell fire.”
Alright, so why did I just make you read this slightly scary fire and brimstone passage that kind of reminds you of a really creepy scene in the weird show Handmaid’s Tale? Obviously, it is incredibly serious but what does it mean. Jesus does not want us to actually chop off our hands and our feet so what does He mean? There are things, people, and situations in our life that are a source of temptation for us. Maybe you struggle with Lust and you know Netflix originals or HBO shows might set you off but you still watch them anyways because of the little ways it makes you feel good without being “that bad.” Maybe you’re trying to stop excessive drinking, especially underage, but you have a friend who tells you it’s fine and always finds a way to convince you to come out with her. Maybe you struggle with something as simple as getting up earlier to pray but you have really bad procrastination problem that keeps you up really late every night.
These are all situations, people, and things that are not sins in and of themselves but they are things that put you in hard situations, moments of temptation, that lead you to sin and that is what we must cut off.
Maybe Instagram is that for you but maybe it’s just something to give up that is hard but it won’t actually help you grow in virtue.
Maybe you have a TV moderation problem so you need to delete your Netflix account.
Maybe you really struggle with trusting the Lord with your time so you need to dedicate at least 30 minutes to Him a day.
Maybe you’re horrible at calling your parents and you need to set up a weekly phone call with them.
The point is – Lent is about not only, waning out the vices but replacing them with virtue. So, if you’re giving something up have a replacement for that. Lent isn’t just about giving up chocolate – it’s about preparing ourselves to meet our Lord at the second coming.