Is your Lent in a slump? If so, you’re not alone. It’s day 29 of our Lenten journey and some of us are feeling sluggish about our resolutions.Take heart. There’s a way to remedy that.
This morning, I had a wonderful conversation with host John Harper on Relevant Radio’s Morning Air Show that I think will be of interest to you. We chatted about my recent case of vertigo (I promise to write about that soon) and also about the “Three Rs of Lent,” which I wrote about in my latest article for Our Sunday Visitor.
These aren’t the Rs you grew up with – Reading, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithmatic – but rather the Rs I’ve pulled my from own experience and the marvelous advice of the folks I interviewed for the article:
Re-evaluate: As Paula Huston, author of Simplifying the Soul: Lenten Practices to Renew Your Spirit (Ave Maria Press, 2011) so adeptly stated, “Lent is not an extreme sport.” We tend to approach Lent with an attitude of competing and succeeding. Either we compete with others or with ourselves, keeping our eye on the finish line so we can say we did it just for the sake of saying we did it. But, like New Year resolutions, we start out with our enthusiasm overflowing only to find it nearly dried up my mid-Lent. If you’re feeling sluggish in your striving, it’s time to pause and re-evaluate what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
Re-focus: Once you’ve discerned what’s not working and why, and what is working and why, it’s time to re-focus your energies on what will most help you to open yourself to God’s grace. If something’s not working for you, let it quietly go. Either choose one or two things that are working for you or add one or two new things that will work better, and focus on those for the rest of Lent.
If you want to really change up your Lenten program, you’ll get tons of fresh ideas from Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio’s latest book, 40 Days, 40 Ways: A New Look at Lent (Servant Books, 2014).
Renew: Lent is more about attitude than achievement. Once you’ve reevaluated and refocused on the resolutions that you feel will be most effective in opening you to God’s grace and gift of transformation, renew your promise to God – and yourself to enter the second half of Lent with greater fervor and resolve. Pray to our Lord and his Mother for the strength and stamina to do so, and invoke the Holy Spirit to guide you. Then, offer it all to the heavenly Father and place your trust in him to lead you to the finish line – the finish line he wants for you, not the one you’ve devised for yourself!
All three of the Rs of Lent rest under the umbrella of humility. Let go of your pride, stop looking at Lent as a win-or-loose situation, and take an honest look at yourself and your relationship with God. Stop telling yourself what you should do (I once heard a motivational speaker say, “Never should on yourself”) and starting asking the Father what he thinks you should do.
That requires stepping out of yourself and stepping into the arms of the God who loves you more than you can ever know. It requires letting go of the things that aren’t working and making ourselves available for the things that will work. It requires following the Three Rs of Lent.
You may not complete the marathon, but you’ll be a whole lot smarter about what God’s asking of you this Lent.
Image: Tulane Public Relations, CC