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Two Fridays into Lent and here I am sitting alone on the couch with unfinished Stations. What the heck is going on? How can our favorite family devotion be falling to the side? Last week time just slipped away and the kids fell asleep and there went our family prayer time. Then we didn’t pray on the way to Austin or the way back home. I felt guilty all week long. I knew we should have done it, I was ruining Lent by not starting off on the right foot. BUT this week, it was going to be different.
It was different, just not in the way I thought it would be. It ended with me sending the kids that were still awake to bed after losing my patience.
I’m still mad at them. But the guilt has set in..the Stations I told them I’d just finish alone, those Stations are still not done.
We are less than two weeks into Lent, and I’m feeling like an utter failure. I’ve complained daily about my sacrifice, that whole don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing? Well, they know what they are doing, or rather not putting in my mouth and you can bet everyone else does too. That’s not really my style. Usually, I keep my Lenten sacrifice to myself, but this year, it was big and to avoid any confusion, I figured I would just tell people so I wouldn’t have to refuse alcohol, sweets, dairy, grains, legumes, soy and anything else resembling good food or drink. I didn’t want to have to search food labels at someone’s house, kind of rude, I think. So I let it be known that I was attempting a Whole30, but really more because of course Lent is 40 days, but even more because under the Whole30, you can’t cheat, so Sundays do indeed count.
Honestly, if I see you and talk to you, you know. The people at Starbucks know, the swim coach knows, all my friends know, my parents know…why? Because I can’t shut up about how much I hate it. Which of course, I’m not supposed to do.
(By the way, over ten days in? NO MORE ENERGY. Or any other benefits.)
But back to my family. What is it that is making this Lent so hard to embrace? The things we enjoy the most aren’t happening. We’ve read only four of our books. Four! Are they bored with them? Too old? While we definitely read our share of chapter books, picture books still hold a special place for all of the kids. My children have made amazing sacrifices. Goose gave up his beloved Snoopy for Lent. This is literally the only thing that makes me shut up at times. He misses his Snoopy so much, even at 11 years old. But he wanted a good sacrifice because “Jesus died for me.” Does Jesus really care if he gives up Snoopy? No, not really. But he’s learning discipline and doing something he doesn’t want to do as a sacrifice. Marianna gave up television which isn’t hard during the week, but she’s committed at age 5 to make it through Saturday mornings without her usual television. My most obstinate kid finally decided what he would give up two days after Lent started, finally realizing it was okay to give up something a little late.
I’m not sure what’s happening. I finally sat and prayed about my own sacrifice. I know Lent isn’t just giving up chocolate or wine or whatever, it’s more. Jesus doesn’t really care if I have chocolate. But I am called to make a sacrifice. And pray and give alms. All three. I am praying more and attending more masses, and we give. My kids give, that Snax is so sweet, always rolling down the window to share the money he has with others. I’m not sure what the disconnect is with feeling like it’s Lent in my house.
I always pride my family with living the liturgical year well. We’re not in Catholic school, but we celebrate Saint Feast Days and any important day in the church. We’re always learning. We take Advent seriously as well as the 12 days of Christmas. Lent is no exception. But this year has been hard. Really hard. I could blame it on Lance’s long hours, Goose’s ridiculous amount of work, my inability to make our calendar. I don’t know what it is, and right now, it doesn’t really matter. I’m just glad we have 40 days to think about this walk we’re called to take. Its not an easy one. I can say that Lent hasn’t been what I hoped it would be so far for my family. But I’m letting go of the guilt and moving forward. I’ll pray those Stations tonight. Tomorrow is a new day. To apologize for throwing a fit tonight. To hit confession. To try again. The journey doesn’t end, not even with Lent. I’m glad for the chance to start again. To make this Lent one that changes our hearts.