“Every year the Church proposes this time to us as an opportunity to look at our lives, at our days, and for each of us to ask ourselves, “Am I following Jesus inside the story in which He presented himself to me? From what signs do I see that I am following Him?” (https://english.clonline.org/cm-files/2019/02/28/carrón-soc-notes-2-20-2019-final-watermark-pdf.pdf)
And with that, Lent is upon us once more. I don’t even know where the time has gone. Maybe the time just evaporated. More likely, I wasn’t paying attention and now here we are.
I’ve noticed that Lent can become a bit of a contest amongst my catholic friends. Who can give up more? Who can add more? You aren’t fasting (News Flash- NO, I am not, actually. I am 7.5 months pregnant I don’t have to fast)?! All of these things so often leaving me feeling like I am less of a Christian for not having some big ole master plan to turn into a Desert Father and be hermit for 40 days while living on bugs and honey and wearing a shirt made out of hair.
So Lent rolls around this year and I have to ask myself- what am I missing? What is the greater point of this beautifully desolate season we are embarking on?
As I was reading through the notes for School of Community (SoC), this line struck me to my core (the link above will take you to the full notes if you’d like to read them as well!).
Am I following Jesus inside the story He presented Himself to me? From what signs do I see that I am following Him?
With these questions I began to wonder if how I saw Lent has been wrong all along anyways. It’s not about giving up chocolate or Facebook. Sure, these things are good sacrifices, and when our time spent aimlessly scrolling through social media becomes filled with moments of encountering the living Christ they become well worth it.
But if I give up social media, am I really spending the hour per day that my phone says I am on my social media apps in quiet prayer? If I give up food am I really turning that back on itself and thinking of God? Or am I sitting there pissed off that I can’t have the dark chocolate because I gave it up for Lent? Worse still, do I feel that God is going to kick me to the curb if I do eat the chocolate or check my Instagram account?
Since the New Year I have been trying to establish healthy habits before my daughter gets here. Making sure the kitchen is clean before I go to bed. Doing the laundry before the pile becomes a tripping hazard. Brushing my teeth for two full minutes, morning and evening. Journalling the things I am grateful for every evening. Eating three square meals a day.
And yet, not one of these things has been a thing to increase my time spent with God. They are things that bring me peace, and ultimately allow me to be a better person. But they don’t specifically scream THIS IS TIME SET ASIDE FOR GOD.
My husband and I were chatting about Lent and what we wanted to do to help us strengthen our spiritual habits before the baby gets here. And I tossed around a lot of ideas. Hell- I even said morning prayer this morning because I saw it sitting on my end table and thought- why not (and low key- I really enjoyed being back in the psalms, as I always do)?
But then I come back to this question: Am I following Jesus inside the story He has presented Himself to me? And I realize that this lent is so very important for me as a person.
Jesus is with me in the piles of boxes that show me just how loved my daughter is. Jesus is with me in the 4th load of laundry, ensuring I get my steps in for the day because I have to keep going up and down to get everything situated. Jesus is with me in the late night editing of my thesis. Jesus is in my instagram feed- where we celebrate each other, and add more beauty to a dark and scary world. Jesus is in each text message I send, making sure someone knows just how loved they are.
How easily I had forgotten that He is there. The point of this whole love story in which He has presented Himself to me is that He is always with me. He is with me in the mess, He is with me in the trenches. He has never abandoned me, and I have never had to do this alone. How easily I had forgotten that I am not a one woman show. I was not meant to take on the weight of the world, and all I had to do was remember that He was there to take on most of the burden for me.
So this Lent, I am recommitting to finding Jesus in every moment of my day. I am promising to remember that I am not alone, and that He wants to be there with me. I am not giving something up. I am not adding in more than I can handle. I am simply going to remember that He is here, and that my life needs to be a living, breathing testament to this fact. I am going to spend more time being grateful, and make sure that everything I do is a resounding “Come and See” about the guy that makes my life as beautiful as it is.