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preparing for lent

February 20, 2009

My silent retreat has been a great precursor to Lent, which begins next week.  I must say, I have been eagerly anticipating the solemn season for a while now.   I have been narrowing my list of Lenten resolutions to a practical size.  In years past, I had a tendency to be overambitious at the beginning.  By week two I would be overwhelmed and give up.  The problem was I never prepared for Lent.  The day before Ash Wednesday, I would frantically try to figure out what I was going to do and what I was going to give up.  I wound up with a whole list of things and tried to do them all because I didn’t have time to discern what God wanted me to focus on.

The last few years, I’ve had amazing Lenten seasons, even with the lack of preparation.  This year, I’ve been preparing myself, not to make it easier, but as a sort of conditioning so I will be ready to give myself to each moment especially when that moment is difficult.

I never liked Lent when I was growing up.  It was much too solemn and sad for me.  One would have thought my melodramatic younger self would have preferred the dreariness of Lent, but I didn’t.  The drama queen act was a cover for a very shy, homely, easily frightened and awkward girl with absolutely no confidence.  Lent seemed to blow away that cover which left me feeling very exposed.  I worried about upsetting and disappointing people around me.  I felt that during Lent my thoughts, faults and failings were left in the open for God and the world to see and judge.  Besides, Lent meant giving up things and fasting from things.  I obviously had little self-control and discipline, considering I would give into most of the far-fetched ideas that entered my head, like the misconceptions I had regarding Lent.

My views have changed since then.  I’ve learned to accept and embrace who I am as a Daughter of God, with all of my weaknesses and strengths, failures and triumphs.  Instead of dreading these 40 days, I now long for them for the very reasons I disliked them in my youth.

Lent is the perfect time for stripping myself of all unnecessary distractions so I can see myself as I truly am through the eyes of Christ.  There is grace enough for me to walk through the gray, cold, desolate areas of my life.  Christ accompanies me every step of the way as I learn to die to my desires through fasting and prayer.

Don’t get the wrong idea – I have not mastered Lenten practices.  It continues to be a MAJOR challenge but I love it!  The more I give myself to the difficulties of Lent, the more dynamic the Easter celebration will be.  I am confident this Lent will be a great adventure!

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