This year I have found myself dreading the season of Lent and stressing over what I should do to serve God better and grow closer to Him during the 6 weeks leading up to Easter. There were so many things that came to mind as I contemplated a worthy sacrifice. I could give up my Facebook time, like last year. I could give up sweets or second helpings at dinner, or my unnecessary but much loved (gluttonous?!?!?!?) habit of snacking after lunch and dinner. I could give up a little of my sleep and get up earlier each day. I could not decide- it all sounded worthwhile but I feared if I attempted too much I would fail in all of it and would have a Lent marked by weakness and feelings of guilt. It really has been causing me anxiety over the last week as I kept changing my mind and thinking of more things to add to the list of possibilities. The more I worried, the more unsettled I became, and the more I dreaded the upcoming season.
I finally realized my stress was coming more from my perfectionist tendencies than from a true desire to serve God. Finally, I resorted to what I should have started with and sat down to pray. “Holy Spirit, guide me. Help me to know how I may grow closer to God, how I may serve Him better, and how I may prepare my heart to truly receive Him on Easter and always....”
We are taught that Lent is a time for penitence (thankfully, not perfection). We are encouraged to practice prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. So my plan for Lent is to:
- Start my day with prayer. Not a quick prayer as I ready myself for the day but a more focused prayer time, on my knees, focusing only on prayer. I will include a morning offering, the litany of humility, and a time of quiet to listen for God’s voice.
- To give up sweets and to get on my computer only twice a day, rather than checking it every few hours throughout the day.
- To look for at least one opportunity each day to offer a random act of kindness or charity to others. I will share my act of charity with my family during our evening prayer time, and will encourage each member of my family to do the same. We will write our kind acts on paper hearts and hang them in our kitchen.