We are now fully into the penance of the holy season of Lent.
I’ve already messed it all up.
This to me, is the beauty of Lent. It reminds me every year of just how hard it is to be the person I really want to be, the person I think God is calling me to be. It sets me up to fail, to remind me that without God, I truly am powerless.
Every year, I use Lent almost like New Years Day, a time to reset my life to what I think it should be if only I were a better person. I have in my mind the idea that if I can just create the habits of being good, that somehow that will fix most of my problems. Lent teaches me again and again, year after year, that it is just more complicated than that. It reminds me of my fundamental laziness, my sloth, my pride.
It’s not that I don’t really want to be a good person, I truly do. I truly wish to become a saint, as holy as I am able in this transitory life. The problem is wanting to be a saint right now. I have this constant vision of what I think holiness looks like, and want to somehow reach it, but in the moment, I think, “I’m tired, I know I should pray my rosary, but I really just want to lie on the couch and watch some Netflix.” Then one show becomes three, and I’ve blown my whole evening. I can’t help but feel so defeated, and I feel like just giving up.
The first Sunday of Lent, we heard the story of Jesus in the desert, being tempted by Satan. Again and again Satan tries to trick Jesus, and he does it in the most devious way possible. He uses scripture! He tries to present sin to Jesus as if it is a good thing, as if God would really want him to do these things. Jesus is not fooled, but I am fooled almost every time. “Come on Dance, you know you are tired, I know God wants you to have some free time to yourself,” the serpent whispers. Yes, of course he does, but not at the expense of leaving Him or my commitments I’ve made to Him! And I certainly don’t need THAT much rest!
How does Jesus fight back? He has a plan. A real plan, and a good plan. Jesus knows he is going to be tempted, and he is prepared. For Jesus, he has prepared by knowing his scripture, and he’s ready to fight the devil head on.
Satan will attack us this Lent as well, every day of it, and if we too don’t have a plan, we will fall victim to his lies.
You know what your main sins are. I certainly know mine, I confess them over and over again every time I seek Reconciliation. Do you have a plan for how you are going to deal with the temptation that most affects you? When you have the temptation to gossip, what is your plan? When you have the temptation to be rude, what is your plan? When you have the temptation to be lazy, what is your plan? When you have the temptation to consume too much, what is your plan?
Take your spiritual life seriously this Lent, treat it as you would any other enterprise. You would not build a business without a plan, neither can you build a strong spiritual life without one. Take notice of your weaknesses, and careful decide how you will defeat the sin that have plagued you. That way, like Jesus, you will be prepared when the tempter comes.
Then, this will be a Holy Lent indeed.