Well, we are one day into lent and I have already flubbed at least once. I didn't mean to, actually I did mean to - I flubbed on purpose. The pizza was right there and it looked delicious. I don't regret it, but it got me thinking about how much I will waffle on my lenten promises. What makes some years better than others? How do I negotiate the next 40 days so that I can arise a Lenten champion?
As I review my most successful Lenten challenges here is what I think works the best.
1. Don't do Lent in a bubble. I believe that we are made to do life in community. Lent should be no different, and when I fail is when I think I can go all Lone Ranger on my Lenten commitments. This year my family tried to do things a little differently; we made Lenten promises together. So now, when I fail, I'm not just failing myself - I'm failing my community. In this case I think a little peer pressure is a good thing. I also recommend making a life group Lenten covenant, having someone to text about your struggles is awesome.
2. Don't negotiate your commitments. I am already trying to decide if Sunday counts as a part of Lent. If you are like me then if you don't "cheat" on Sunday then that translates to a Monday, and well... if you are going to cheat on Monday you might as well cheat on Tuesday. JUST STOP - negotiating is a slippery slope. Stand firm.
3. Give yourself grace. It's okay to mess up. I constantly have to remind myself that I don't have to be perfect, just intentional. One of the mindsets I love about recovery is that we take it one day at a time. If you happen to flub a Lenten commitment just start over again tomorrow.
4. Pray without ceasing. More than anything else when I am struggling I need to turn to prayer. Lent is designed to get us a little turned around. When I find myself struggling to stay on my commitments I need to remember why I'm doing this. I'm doing it to be closer to God.
At the end of this entire season I am the only person who can judge if I was successful at growing closer to God. There is no gold star chart, no "student" of the week award. Lent is about preparing room in our lives for a living and powerful God. When I internalize that, I know I can't fail.
Who can you include in on your Lenten promises?
Who can be in prayer with you? How can you invite them?
Take some time this week and share why you are participating in your Lenten commitments. Find someone you trust, and will support you without judgement.