Living Your Lent
Lent starts this Wednesday, and I feel a little shocked because I actually feel ready. If you are anything like me, I always made a long list of challenging (and often unrealistic) things that I would give up, change, grow in, or try to do daily. Although this practice can be really wonderful for many people, for me, it felt like a crappy "To-Do” list that I dreaded compiling every single year. I found that when we had our first child, I was completely at a loss of what to do for Lent. I reached out to my girlfriends, and I remember vividly what one friend shared. She said, "You have a newborn, you are constantly nursing, sleep deprived, and adjusting to motherhood, you are LIVING YOUR LENT.”
I laughed, and then cried. She was so right! Forget making a list of things, my goal that year was to grow in patience and love, and motherhood as gracefully as possible. I went to confession every week, and did my best to be holy in my daily life. It was a very fruitful Lent. The following year, my Lent looking slightly different, as I was pregnant with our second child, working full time outside the home, and trying to not fall asleep every chance I got. I felt overwhelmed and tired, and I was struggling. I recalled my friend's words, and again, did not make a list, only tried to be holy in my circumstance. Again, a great and fruitful Lent.
Last year, with a 2 year old and a 6 month old, I was stretched thin as Lent approached. The adjustment to 2 babies, for me, was extremely hard, and I refused to make a list. I very much felt that I was living my lent, and that a list was useless. It wasn't that I was experiencing joy, I was. Daily. But the intensity of the service and self gift that motherhood required took a toll on me. I decided that I would use Lent as a time to focus on I embracing the challenges of motherhood in a positive way, and on the JOY of getting to be a stay at home mama. Again, such a fruitful Lent.
This year, we are pregnant with our 3rd child, and although this pregnancy has been fairly smooth, there are some aspects of this season of life that are exhausting. Thankfully, we are in a sweet spot with our two boys, ages 3 years and 18 months, so that makes it easier on me. They play together, keep one another busy, and, for the most part, get along really well. Nevertheless, I am keeping this Lent simple, by adding one thing to my list, apart of seeking holiness in my daily life. I think that sometimes we want to approach Lent the way we used to before our husbands or kids were in the picture, and we can get frustrated when things don't go the way we hoped they would. Incorporating our season of life INTO our Lent is a great way to set ourselves up for a positive Lenten experience. Our little family does small things that help keep Lent at the forefront of our minds. We attend the Fish Fry at our parish every Friday, we use a lot of purple paint in our art projects, we watch less tv, we pray the rosary together, we spend a lot of time outside, and make really simple meals, bottom line? We simplify.
This year I decided to add a little something because I found that my prayer life is lacking, and although this pregnancy is my 3rd, I have some anxieties and fears that were not present with my first 2 pregnancies. So, to help with that, I will be participating in a book study along with my FAVORITE podcast, Abiding Together. I will be reading a small, but mighty book called Searching for and Maintaining Peace by Father Jacques Phillipe. I STRONGLY encourage you to join this book study!! This podcast has been amazing for my personal growth, and it is so easy to listen to it as I prep dinner or fold laundry.
The reality is that some years, Lent is going to go by really quickly, because your situation may be one that is already calling you to daily, intense sacrifice or suffering, and that is ok! Some years you will be able to make a long list of things, or do ONE HUGE THING that will bring a lot of holiness and joy. However, if you are anything like me, trying to focus on JOYFULLY living your Lent daily, I want you to know you are not alone! The main purpose of Lent, like all liturgical seasons, is to draw close to, and ENCOUNTER the living God. That personal and intimate relationship with Christ is the most important thing. If you don't know what to do for Lent this year, take it to prayer and ASK Jesus what HE wants you to do, or sacrifice this year. It does not have to be something monumental, as long as it draws you closer to Christ, that is enough. What are some ways that you implement your Lenten practices into your busy home life? What are some ways that you are living your lent this year? Share all your ideas!