I’ve been at this Christian thing, pretty intensely, for almost ten years. And I’ve never not failed at Lent.
Every year begins the same: I think of the myriad of ways that I want to be holy, and I make my Lenten resolutions. I make spiritual, emotional, physical, financial, and relational goals. This year I gave up social media and cursing and I took on daily flossing and being more intentional about protecting my prayer time (among other things…).
A few days into Lent, I got really sick, and my some of my Lenten plans needed to change.
But this year, something is different about my failures.
Here’s the backstory: I am super type A and a CLASSIC shame spiraler.
When you fail at something you promised yourself you’d do (or you do something you promised yourself you wouldn’t), but instead of doing it once, or twice, you do it a thousand times until you feel so guilty that you muster up the willpower to recommit to your goals: this is what my friends and I call the shame spiral.
Example: If I commit to praying with scripture for 20 minutes per day, and I forget on a Thursday night, it will take me MANY more days of not praying before I get it together and start praying regularly again. (And because I’m so type A, sometimes it takes until a Monday or the first of a new month to get back on track… I know… it is neurotic.)
I’m such a creature of habit and routine, that once my habit gets broken, it takes an act of God to get me out of the deep end. I am so prideful, that once I “disappoint myself,” it becomes a whole process where I have to dwell on why I failed, etc. and then I end up at the bottom of the shame spiral.
St. Paul’s letter to the Romans tells us that the wages of sin is death. Since God created us in His image, we are NECESSARILY good. But we all sin, and we know that Jesus came to save us from our sins: to bridge the chasm left by sin between God and man. The wages of sin is death, but the wages of the Resurrection is life! Jesus gives us the sacrament of Reconciliation to bring us back to Him, and allow us to share in His Resurrection.
When I go to Confession, Jesus cleanses me of my sins. If I still dwell on them, am I not holding myself to be a higher tribunal than God Himself? Sin has a way of altering my perception of myself because of my pride. Humility calls me to see myself the way God sees me: a person who was created Good, but who also happens to have a sin problem. My identity as a daughter of God means I am good. But I have a sin problem. And I’m pretty sure you have a sin problem too.
But like I mentioned, this year, something is different about my failures. This year, I’m taking my Lent one day at a time. Because if I spend all my time making future plans or dwelling on the past, or even thinking about how great I am if I happen to be succeeding at my resolutions, I have no time to love the people right in front of me.
Jesus told Martha, as she was busy SERVING, that Mary had chosen the better part. So when I’m tempted to dwell on my failures this Lent, I’m going to run to the feet of Jesus, sit there, and let Him look at me. And I hope you will too.
Saint Martha, pray for us.
This blog was written by a guest writer and parishioner, Brittany Anderson. Brittany is a financial planner by day and evangelist by calling. She spends her free time Instagramming her many random hobbies and checking things off her 30 Before 30 list.