It’s Lent once again and you’ve probably made anywhere from 2-3 Lenten “resolutions”. Catholics have a love-hate relationship with these kinds of Lenten activities.
On one hand, we feel excited about doing something new for and with God. We secretly feel that maybe, just maybe, this Lent we will draw closer to the Lord. Will this be the year when I have a breakthrough? Will this year be any different from previous years?
On the other hand, it can feel like drudgery. The fasting bothers us. The alms giving only reminds us that we aren’t that generous in the first place. By the time Easter arrives, we are more relieved than anything.
The other weird part of Lent is that we are, most of us anyways, pretty awful at making resolutions. Think of the last New Year’s Resolution that actually stuck past February 1- I thought so.
I’m no different. Some years during Lent have gone really well, others not so much.
This year, I’ve decided to give something up that’s a bit out of the ordinary: podcasts. Hear me out. I drive a lot of carpools each week, getting my kids to and from school and sports practices. There’s a lot of time in the car and sometimes it feels like a part time job.
To fill the space, I listen to podcasts. A typical week might offer me 20-25 podcasts. I listen to casts about politics, sports, productivity, faith and everything in between.
So far, my Lenten sacrifice has been difficult but good.
A bigger question is whether your Lenten sacrifices are stressing you out. Are they? What’s behind that stress?
- A bit of friction might not be a bad thing. This might show you that you’ve been “soft” in the months (years?) leading up to Lent. It might also be God telling you to sacrifice a bit more and to hang in there. Sacrifice isn’t meant to be a cakewalk after all.
- You may have set yourself up for failure. Is your Lenten sacrifice unrealistic? Have you taken on more than 1-2?
My advice would be to sacrifice only one thing for Lent. The key though is to make it a meaningful sacrifice. For me, it’s podcasts. For you, it may be something else.
Finally, it’s ok to make a “mid-game adjustment” during Lent. Pray for the wisdom and discernment to know what God wants for you to do during Lent. After all, a Lenten sacrifice is a means to an end, not an end in and of itself.