“I’m giving up all tv (except for March Madness), Facebook, and coffee is a thing of the past.
In fact, nothing edible will grace my gullet for forty days. And I’m going to read the entire Bible front to back in Hebrew and Greek while wearing a hair shirt that would bring Bigfoot to tears.”
Sound familiar? We’re all big talkers at the beginning of Lent, aren’t we?
We’re going to get really holy, get really in touch with our Lord’s sacrifice on the Cross. We’re strong enough! Who needs food! (It’s a scientific fact that most rash Lenten resolutions are made on a full stomach.)
So how’s it going? Uh-huh…thought so.
If you’ve struggled to keep up with your lenten resolutions just take a deep breath and relax. It’s hard to sacrifice. It’s meant to be hard.
And for those of us who bit off more than we could chew, it can be discouraging because we weren’t able to perfectly keep our promises. We failed!
But let’s keep a couple things in mind.
First of all, be realistic. If you’re trying to do too much, take a step back and get real. I’m not trying to get anyone off the hook, because the whole point is to be sacrificial and it’s never easy.
But at the same time, it would do us good to recall the famous line from Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry character in Magnum Force: “Man’s got to know his limitations…”
Second, the Lord is merciful. He’s not mad at you for failing. He might be chuckling at your inability to put down the Oreo and walk away, but he’s not mad. He’s the most merciful person in the world!
Remember, Lenten sacrifice isn’t for him. It’s for us. It’s meant to help us take our eyes off of this world and focus on the next. It’s meant to help us love Christ more, not get down on ourselves.
So if you’ve fallen a few times already, stand up and brush the Little Debbie crumbs off your pants. Then pick up your Lenten cross and start again…but maybe with one made from a little lighter wood.
P.S. As a special Lenten gift, I’m giving you “Beer, Chocolate & Value-Added Suffering” for FREE. It’s chapter 5 of my book Louder Than Words: The Art of Living as a Catholic.
Click the image of the book or the link above and it will come right to your inbox. God bless!
I enjoyed your messages at the Pray More retreats last year. I am excited to read this chapter. I am doing great mostly but eating is my challenge this lent. I gave up Facebook and Estate Sales (for heavens sakes, we had four garage sales to downsize so why do I impulsively stop at at these sales and buy yet more that we do not need. Surprisingly, this one has been the hardest sacrifice for me so tough to drive on by.
It’s funny the things that are difficult to give up, isn’t it, Esther?:) Hope you enjoy the chapter. God bless!
Once again you have a message just for me at this time in my life. I had a terrible Advent and I promised myself that Lent would be different. And so far it hasn’t been! I am battling with resistance to anything that is not giving me consolation…how is that for a Spirit-filled Catholic Christian who at one time thought that she and the Holy Spirit could tackle the world! Now He is shining His Light on my hidden sins, intentions, what is truly driving my life that is not in His will for me. I made the mistake of immercing myself in reflections, books, etc. of people that have worked through the Holy Spirit to deeper waters than I should have sank my toe into. My yearnings were there with an insatiable hunger but they, instead, brought me to failure and dispair at times. I was drowning instead of swimming upstream. If you have word of wisdom for me, Matthew, I would appreciate hearing from you. Blessings always, Shirley Bachmeier
Actually, Shirley. You’re probably not drowning. You’re just starting to see yourself and understand yourself more clearly. Why else would St. Paul, after years of dedicated service to the Lord, declare, “I am the chief of sinners!”? The closer you get to God, the more you understand the chasm between us and him. It’s a chasm only overcome by mercy. Accept your weaknesses and allow him to fill you up. That’s where the strength is. Don’t despair, but rather “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-11). Don’t stop studying or praying through deeper spiritual reflections and remember that the spiritual life is a marathon, not a sprint. God bless you!
Matt you made my day this morning. am one of those who put in a lot of things to change this Lent but i failed within the first week of lent. Now am praying for God’s grace. i tried ending a relationship that i have been into for three years but bbrrrrr… found myself back to it.
Pray with me Matthew.
I have taken a lighter cross and am determined to make it.
God’s grace is always sufficient for you, Anne…always! He’s your loving Father who is just waiting to throw his arms around you. Brush yourself off and get back to it, knowing that he’s smiling at you right now. That’s not a saccharine platitude, that’s the infinite love of a God who suffered and died for you so that you might live with him forever. He knows exactly who you are and what struggles you deal with. Just keep giving them over to him. (And don’t forget to make use of all the graces available in all the sacraments!) God bless you!
this sounds like truely me, i promised myself to sacrifice so much this lent season, but sometimes i just find that time is still moving and i already did things i had promised myself to abstain from. however, i promised to work on my relation with God and it is a plus here! i have become more prayerful and involved in God’s service in a huge way. Thanks Matthew and be blessed for reminding us that we do this things for our own good.
Jenaide – Keep at it no matter what. If we give our shortcomings over to God, it only makes us stronger. As St. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” God bless!