Lent is upon us, so close we can count down the hours now. Although it is later than most years, it still seems to sneak up on us and say, “Surprise! Your penance awaits you.” My husband dreads the fasting part of Lent and likes it early in the year so we can get it over with. I usually seem to look forward to committing to making some real changes in my life. I see Lent as the grandiose version of New Year’s resolutions, because I am not just doing it for myself but for God and have tremendous more motivation to stay committed.
I always have such a hard time deciding and discerning what to do for Lent. My mind creates a laundry list of areas in my life that need improvement, making it difficult to just focus on a couple. I want to jump in and have this be the Lent I am somehow made into a saint overnight, or at least in 40 days. Come Easter I want to see radical conversion in my life and I want it to be apparent to my husband and children as well, being they are the ones who see my faults at my weakest times.
We know well that as mothers our state of life presents us with ample opportunities for penance and sacrifice. Even before the dawn breaks we have been presented with moments to make holy, to rise above our weaknesses and turn to virtue. Much easier said than done when the comfort of a warm bed and soft pillow beckon your eyes to stay closed instead of responding to the needs of children and all the more doing it joyfully while being interrupted from our slumber.
It may be letting go of my to-do list as the toddler just wants time to play with Mommy and being okay that “nothing” I can check off was done during the day. Carving out time for prayer only to be interrupted by small voices needing something, realizing every act of service to my family is an act of prayer. Whispering a Hail Mary before responding to a fighting match in the other room. Making a decisive effort to remain joyful during the hangry hours before my spouse comes home and greeting him with a genuine smile instead of a sigh of exhaustion.
With so many areas to grow in holiness how can we as mothers simply just narrow it down to one? After all, I want to make radical change. Perhaps there is a theme that encompasses much of it to have as a focus during Lent. Maybe it is patience, joy, being present, giving of ourselves, remaining prayerful, staying focused on what matters, peace, acts of love, self-care, or renewing our marriage.
Before Lent begins we should find time for reflection. What areas in my life do I want to see change? What area needs more of Christ and less of me? What specific situations throughout the day do I see the need to be sanctified? What time of day is my joy, patience, love most needed and with who is it most needed with.
For my own accountability I need to write things down and enjoy the satisfaction of putting a check mark in my journal when I have accomplished my goal well. This also causes me to reflect on my day and to be honest with myself in the areas that I have failed and need to work harder on. Maybe it’s going to the extent of putting post-it notes on the bathroom mirror or above the kitchen sink as reminders throughout the day. Whatever it takes to keep me on track and focused on being sanctified.
I have come to the realization that I will not become an insta-saint over Lent, but it is allowing myself to be slowly chiseled at and made into something new. By making practical and attainable steps — no matter how small — as long as they are doable, I am being sanctified.
The goal of Lent is not just about making sacrifices for the sake of giving something up, but becoming more focused on our Savior. The focus should not be on ourselves and what I am getting out of the experience, but how I am becoming more like Christ. And when we are more focused on Christ, eyes drawn toward Him we will be drawn closer to Him who we gaze upon.
In the end, we should choose to give up or do something that brings glory to God, because in the end it is all about Him. If we keep our focus on the Cross, we will ultimately begin to bear the Image.
Copyright 2019 Cassie Everts