I kicked off my first Lent
with great enthusiasm and expectation. I wasn’t sure exactly what it was that I expected, but I imagined it would be difficult to spend 40 days stretching the boundaries of comfort and routine to focus on my spiritual life without it having an impact. I even signed up to periodically blog the experience as part of a Lenten Synchroblog
endeavor inspired by Christine Sine
at Mustard Seed Associates
. My first synchroblog post ended with an “I’ll write more tomorrow” teaser ending that I planned to follow up on the next day.
I never did write that second blog post. I wish I could say that the reason was profound. That the Holy Spirit led me in a different direction or something. No such luck. The real reason was far less savory. I never actually “did” Lent.
This was not an intentional decision. It started with a simple slip off of my self-imposed Lenten wagon that quickly spiraled into a one-day-at-a-time descent. I thought about it, prayed about it and felt a bit guilty about it for about two weeks before it went out of my mind completely and I never looked back.
What would Jesus do? Not this.
But this shouldn’t really be a big surprise to me. I frequently set out to create a new disciplines in my life (think New Year’s Resolutions) only to find myself unable to achieve genuine transformational change. I learned in recovery and continue to learn through my faith in Jesus that when I set out to make a change by force of will it is rarely sustained. On the other hand, when I turn things over to a power greater than myself (for me the Father, Son and Holy Spirit) it tends to bear fruit. I can’t explain the ins and outs of how this works, but I have come to believe that every genuine (and worthwhile) shift in my character since I first converted from atheism to agnosticism more than a decade ago – and more recently when I converted from agnosticism to Christianity – has been due to surrendering to something outside of myself. I think that’s where I went wrong with this Lent endeavor.
So, rather than chalking it up to “human nature” and moving forward like it never happened, I have decided to try again. Forty days from today puts me at May 22. I don’t know exactly what I should be giving up or how I should be amending my days – I will be praying, seeking and, most importantly, listening to find that out today.
What I do know is that I am entering into “Take 2” on Lent 2009 with a little less enthusiasm and a lot more humility on the heels of my failed first attempt. It will be interesting to see how it goes this time around.