This year is my first in a church that officially “does” Lent. Ash Wednesday and everything. The Dude is undertaking various exercises in self-discipline. I am not. I had a list of good intentions. I had a brilliant plan of what I was going to do.
But as the day got closer, the pressure of it all was increasingly onerous. More of something I had to do rather than what I wanted to do. More about ticking the box of saying I had done something, rather than having any meaningful intent behind it. And I knew how it would be – gritting my teeth and resenting it and struggling to do that and be a good mother and then feeling guilty too. So I figure maybe I should go straight to the guilt.
The point of Lent is contemplation, reflection, sacrifice. I have heard people say they are giving up Facebook for Lent. I have heard others say that if all the Christians give up Facebook for Lent, who will be there to respond to those who are hopeless and vulnerable and in need, for whom social media is their only outlet? I have given up coffee for Lent before. One year I gave up chocolate. Cranky is not the word.
So this year I am not adopting any new disciplines, either by giving something up or by trying to do something new every day. This Lent I am being a good mum.
I am supporting The Dude in his Lent endeavours.
I am encouraging and engaging with the reflections of others as they do their Lent journeys.
And I am eating chocolate when I need to, so that I have the energy I need. I am looking out for opportunities to explain to Little Person what this faith is all about. I am building this year so that next year, I will have the right heart to be able to engage with sacrifice as a road to understanding, instead of as a dead-end of guilt and resentment.
Lent. It’s about knowing your own heart. And at the end of it, the wonder that God loves you anyway.