Oh, the season of Lent. The most important season of the year next to Easter. The season of fasting, penance, and almsgiving. Or in the case of me, the most important season of the Christian calendar when I fall seriously down on my job as an adopted daughter of God. Why oh why does Lent always fall during the busiest time of my family’s calendar? I know that I have no say in the matter, but it always brings me down. Advent, that I can do – albeit half-way. Lent? It falls during – dare I say it out loud – spring sports season where my entire family lives in a state of constant and utter chaos. (Please forgive me – yet again – Lord.)
Does God want me in a state of constant chaos? He does not. He wants and hopes that I stay in the holy season of Lent. He wants me to give my mind, heart and soul to this holy season and all that it offers me as a person. It offers me such growth – such promise. And then life takes over, and I get taken away in a fast current of track meets, lacrosse games, stinky laundry, and meals at 10:00 p.m. Oh yeah, I also have dogs and a spouse. I lose Lent. It loses me.
So, I head to my parish’s Penance Service last Monday with my “memo card of sins.” It is my turn, and I am face to face with the kindest face I’ve seen in a long time. The priest is a jolly, older Irish man, and when he sees my “memo card of sins,” he jokes, “Is that the litany of Saints?”. Phew. I got a good one.
I know that reconciliation is full of graces that I will never fully comprehend. Sometimes I leave feeling worse than when I walked in, but most of the time I feel the compassion and mercy of my heavenly Father, the sacred heart of my brother Jesus who walks my same roads, and the Holy Spirit who guides me through my crazy, 2017 life. Most of the time, I leave armed with the armor of God – ready to do battle.
This time (and please forgive me for oversharing), but I confessed that I have not done a good job of holding onto my Lenten promise. And let’s be clear – my Lenten promise is something that I should be doing anyway. It wasn’t something above and beyond the pale.
This kind, sweet, loving old priest said to me, “Jesus himself fell beneath the weight of the sins of the world three times. Even though he knew Calvary was ahead of him, he got up – three times. When you fall, just get back up.”
I cannot begin to tell you what that simple message said to me. “Just get back up.” When you mess up once, don’t berate yourself. Just get back up. Do the next right thing. When you make that mistake that you always make – you know the one – try not to make it again the next time. Use positive self-talk telling yourself that you want to be the best version of yourself. Pray to the Holy Spirit to redirect your thoughts and actions. Ask forgiveness. Again.
The priest said to me that we are close to Easter, but there is still plenty of time to work toward my Lenten promise. Just get back up. Here’s to getting back up. We are all in this together.