But sometimes, the Lord chooses our practice for us. It may come in the form of an illness, either our own or a loved one’s – a suffering greater than giving up coffee or chocolate. Sometimes, we are asked do take on an extra job of some sort and have to discern if it is God’s will that we find the extra time and give more of ourselves to complete this task. This work then becomes our prayer.
This year, though, God is doing something different with me. In this year of mercy, God has decided that it is about time that I tackle head on a fault of mine. I know this is God’s doing because, while I have desired to correct my fault and have attempted in the past to improve, it was not part of Lenten practices…until God made it clear this was something He wanted from me.
People who know me, but don’t live with me, may be shocked to learn that I complain way too much. I can find fault in most anything. It is, unfortunately, easier for me to tear something apart than to build it up. This is my confession. I am ashamed that my words are not always life-giving and love-sharing.
Like in the famous 12-step programs, admitting I have a problem is a good start. God has revealed to me how much of a problem this is. He has allowed me to hear myself as I have never heard myself before. And to make sure I understand the impact it has on those around me, He has inspired my husband to say something to me about it. Ouch! It hurts to face the ugliness of your sin. Yet, it is necessary in order for there to be a true conversion.
Now that I am aware of the many instances where I speak harmfully, I catch myself. By God’s good grace, I can stop myself. It hasn’t been easy. It seems since this has been made clear to me, I have had more and more things come up about which I could easily complain. My prayer this Lent has been uniquely simple: “Hail Mary, full of grace, put some duct tape across my face.” Sorry if that offends anyone, but it has helped!
As I am able more and more to stop my actions, (aided by our Lady, no doubt) I need to fill the lack of something said with words of life and love. This step can be just as hard as the previous one. I don’t know why, but it does not come natural to me. Thus, I must rely on supernatural help.
I make an effort to praise my children every day. If they have spent half an hour cleaning their room and tell me they are done, I make sure to tell them how nicely they have cleaned the closet before kindly pointing out to them that there are still clothes on the floor and all kinds of things under the bed. I make an effort to see and comment on the good things around me – and there are many.
Looking for the good that surrounds me is facilitated by keeping a notebook in which every day I write down at least one thing for which I am truly grateful. Gratitude, I think, can do much to eradicate boorishness.
God is not finished with me yet. In His mercy, He is working on perfecting me. After all, as much as I want to go to heaven, He wants it even more. He sent His only Son to win for me the graces of perfection. I am most grateful that He is sending those graces to me this Lent.
How about you – has there been a time when God chose your Lenten practice for you?
Copyright 2016 Kelly Guest