For the past few years, I have taken Lent to actually mean something. I've recognized the importance and purpose of it. But, I've really never been into the sacrificing of something during the season, simply because I never thought that simple thought of "giving up chocolate" or whatever it is really is the point. The point is to do something during the season of Lent and using that time to bring you closer to God.
The last few years, instead of giving something up, I had made the decision to write a post a day. This was something that would draw me closer to God (since these posts are, for the most part, about God). And I continuously failed. And I really didn't feel any closer to God. I mean, yeah, maybe a bit... but that's not anything that has been particularly special to the season... it's just something that sometimes happens regardless of the season.
So this year, I went a bit further. I brought others (knowingly and unknowingly) on the journey with me. I decided I would spend less time with some people; and more time with other people. I would spend more time in prayer, making certain to do both morning and night prayer every day. I would quit drinking and smoking. And I would write a post every day.
The day after Ash Wednesday, I realized that there needed to be a theme to these posts. They'd be about Lenten sacrifices. Not the "I'm not going to eat meat on Fridays".... "I'm giving up chocolate"... ."I'm giving up coffee".... "I'm giving up going out to the bar"... kind of things. I wanted to write about the things that really pull us away from God. The things that pull us away from each other. The things that ruin relationships of all kinds.
So.... how did this journey go?
The less time with people fluctuated. The more time with other people fluctuated. Sometimes I held to those things, sometimes, I just couldn't. Spending more time in prayer - I actually did do fairly well with this, although I admittedly failed at making sure to do both morning and night prayer every day. Quitting drinking and smoking? Well... I'm writing this a bit tipsy and just took a smoke break. So I guess that answers that.
So that leaves writing a post a day...
Yes, I did fail on that one too. In fact, I am currently writing this post the Friday AFTER Easter Sunday. Many of my posts were written a day (or several days) after when they should have been. Those who've known my original plan of writing one a day have picked on me for back dating my posts. And yet, I don't regret it.
Once I came up with the theme for the posts, I also realized that I couldn't just write about anything. That isn't the point of Lent. Lent is one of those times for personal reflection, and the personal journey. One of my latest posts talks about how we're on this journey of life together... but Lent truly is different... at least in my eyes. It is a time self-reflection and self-growth spiritually.
So my posts had to reflect that. Every Lenten post has a bit of me in it. Perhaps a past me. Perhaps just a small piece of my thoughts. But they're me. They all hold a lesson that I know I need to work on. They all hold a sacrifice I know I need to make. They all are a personal reflection.
Because of that, I do not feel guilt or failure at the fact that I didn't meet the once a day decision I had made. I am filled with peace and joy at the fact that God has given me the words when I needed them the most. I am filled with peace and joy that God always gives the words when they are needed the most.
Today's Lenten sacrifice:
Don't stop your Lenten practice after Lent season is over
Of all I have learned on this Lenten journey, the one thing that stands out the most is that there was a purpose to all I decided upon. Yes, perhaps I failed in the moment at holding true to those decisions. But those decisions were given to me by God for a reason. Perhaps some of those have been met and aren't needed to be continued. But some do. And just because Lent is over does not mean we just go back to the lives we had before. If you did Lent right... you figured out that your "sacrifice" was a way to keep you on the correct path in your journey.
That journey does not end here... it does not end because Lent is over. The journey never ends.