Have you ever tried to ruin a really good Lent with pride? I certainly have, more times than I’d like to admit. Before I was broken (in a good way) by motherhood, I tried to be pretty intense in my Lenten disciplines. And perhaps that was good for me at a time when I didn’t have a lot of penance in my life naturally. But in my zeal for piety, I was also tempted – often – to be so proud of my spiritual intensity and to think that I was the one making myself holy. I only needed a plan and some hard work.
Of course, this is a mistake. My salvation is God’s work. In His mercy He invites me to participate, and my cooperation is necessary, but I’m not the one saving myself.
There has been something so good, so holy, about the humiliation that comes with motherhood – knowing that I don’t have all the answers, that I make mistakes daily, that I can’t love perfectly. The demands of this vocation and the total gift it requires of me makes me reach out to Jesus and cry, “Save me!”
Often I remember some wisdom shared by a friend: “Comfort Him by letting Him redeem you.” Those words were so powerful they continue to rock my world nearly a decade later. This of course is the work of Lent, to let Him redeem us. Our Lenten disciplines should be oriented to that, to giving God permission and space to work in our hearts and our lives. We need to cooperate, to be thoughtful, prayerful and intentional, of course. But that temptation to pride in our spiritual growth is combated by that cry, “Jesus, save me!”
Lent has really only just begun, so if you need to renew or reevaluate your Lenten disciplines, be comforted in that small humiliation. If you already feel like a failure, remember that your Savior has already won the victory; it is not all on your shoulders. And if you are having a great Lent so far, then give thanks to the one who has saved you and offers you that grace.
Copyright 2019 Megan Swaim