I was raised in the Southern Baptist church. We didn’t do Lent. That was a Catholic thing, or so I thought. My first real introduction to Lent came my freshman year of college. I ran into my buddy Laura walking around campus on a sunny Wednesday afternoon. Laura asked me if I was going to the Ash Wednesday service on campus. I didn’t have anything else planned for the afternoon, so I decided to go with her.
I don’t remember details of the service, but I felt prompted to give something up for the 40 days before Easter. It amazes me at how difficult it is for me to change one thing in my life for 40 days. It wasn’t super easy for me, but I gave up carbonated drinks. My cherry coke addiction often got the better of me, but I did it.
That’s probably the only time I could say I’ve “successfully” participated in Lent. Every year since then, I’ve tried to give something up or add a new “good” habit, and just about every time I’ve failed miserably. I usually feel like a failure during Lent, but this year, I’ve thought about it a little differently. Do I fail because I’m human and imperfect? Absolutely. That’s the point. Lent is there to remind me of my weakness and my need for God’s mercy every day.
I’m participating in Lent again this year. I don’t like to share my Lenten practices publicly, because I don’t want to feel like I’m “showing off” my piety or being “holier than thou,” etc. I feel like it ought to be something between you and God. And again, I’m failing to hold up my end of the deal. I’m limping through Lent this year. It helps me remember that I limp through life all the time. In my arrogance, I daily forget I need God. I’m grateful for this season and the reminders it brings me. I pray that you remember your need for God this season, and every day after.