I used to panic when Lent would come around worried that I wasn’t “doing” enough. Did I have enough spiritual reading to finish? Did I have enough sacrifices that I was going to make? Did I have a plan to get the whole family involved and make sure they were “doing” enough?
I don’t believe that “doing” is really what Lent is all about. It has taken a few years for me to fall into the idea of Lent being a time of “being.” I have to tell myself that what Jesus desires most is for me to simply be with Him.
This means that I don’t need any great plans of reading, or particular amounts of time praying, but simply spending time being.
I need to empty my calendar a little, slow down, and just, well, … be.
This is truly a sacrifice for me.
Sure, this might mean I can finally get to some spiritual reading or spend more time praying, but the emphasis isn’t on the doing, but on the “being.”
I invite you to take this approach for yourself, not stressing over Stations of the Cross, the perfect meatless meals for Fridays, or not eating sweets. And see if you find yourself wanting to attend the Stations, rather than “having to go because it’s Friday” or turning away from the cookie because you are actively offering that to Jesus, not because “I gave it up for Lent.”
It is a subtle difference and sometimes we need resolve to remind us, but as the Old Testament says, “Forced worship stinks in the nostrils of God.” What God wants most is our freely given love.
This may be appearing as a hypocrite if I share this Lent Calendar with you, but it’s not a calendar of “to do’s.” This calendar is simply marking off the days and remembering it’s Lent. I find it very effective with every member in the house, especially teens and young adults. Check it out. It’s black and white and prints on two pages. You can color or x off each day.
I have been using this one for years, updated with the dates for every year. The boy in this picture is now almost 6 feet tall.
Of course there are other reminders that we can do as well, but just don’t let these “reminders” turn into checklists. I find a change of décor — simplifying by taking away some of your decorations, serves as a reminder of this simpler time we are having. If only there was an easier way to simplify the family schedule!
So as you are contemplating how you are spending your Lent, think: What does God really want from me? before you start checking off your “Lenten To-Do’s.”
Copyright 2020 Tami Kiser