Have you decided what you want to give up for Lent?
How are you feeling about that?
Are you nervous, excited, dreading it, motivated, queasy, unenthused?
Or perhaps you have not yet decided on anything, in which case, I ask you, how are you feeling about that?
Ashamed, annoyed, numb, resentful, fearful of failure, bitter, guilty, apathetic?
Why do we give something up during lent?
Have you ever had this same question or wondered about why you want to choose the thing you chose to give up?
If you’re feeling negatively about whatever it is you have chosen – or have yet to choose, let’s do some thought work on it, shall we.
What is the motivation that is driving that decision? Is it obligation, shame, or ego?
If it is, I can almost guarantee that you will not make it the full 40 days. We cannot receive the grace needed to do hard things when our reason for doing so is tainted.
A really helpful way to discern whether or not your choice is on the right track it to ask yourself this question, “Is this effort bringing me closer to God?”
If giving something up for God isn’t bringing you closer to Him (meaning we’re moving toward vice instead of virtue), chances are we need to look at our motives. Chances are, we may need to acknowledge, root out, repent, and release a sneaky vice, disordered thought, or self-serving motivation that may be lurking within.
It can be hard to strike the balance between a certain degree of necessary fortitude in the form of white knuckling to help you do something hard and then over-using this tool to bulldoze our spiritual growth. It can quickly turn into ungodly self-reliance or perfectionism, and once that happens, it’s no longer about God, it’s about you. And now we’ve got things all turned around!
Us perfectionists can have a hard time with Lent. We tell ourselves, “I have to pick just the right thing and do it exactly right and never forget. And what’s this thing about Sundays don’t count, that’s for wusses!”
Do those thoughts resound of God’s goodness, peace and joy? No! They reek of the enemy’s fingerprints of pride, self-righteousness, urgency, pressure, impossible standards with a set up for shame.
If you are someone who gets mad at other people for getting in the way of your Lenten journey, (ie losing my temper at my children for disrupting my Lenten prayer time…) then we are missing the point!
We are not getting graded, and we’re not doing this for ourselves. We are not engaging in spiritual or physical mortifications to prove how tough we are or for the purposes of enjoying the spiritual consolations that may come. No! We are giving something up in order to let someONE in.
There is a line in the book, He and I, when Gabrielle Bossis is lamenting leaving the Lord out of much of her day when He says, “For you I must be everything. Everything! You understand? Your life is Mine. . . . Move out of yourself; I’m living in you. Do you grasp what I mean? I take up all the room.”
Lent is meant to be a time where we intentionally make more space for the Lord in our life. We give things up and leave things out so He can fill in the gaps. If you are someone who struggles with that sneaky feeling of deprivation, who blames others for interrupting their efforts, or just doesn’t want to give up anything hard because they’re just going to fail and they really don’t want to feel like a failure again…I encourage you to capture those thoughts.
Bring them to the Metanoia Journal, bring them to coaching, bring it to the Lord in Exercise 7, and let Him speak Truths into your heart.
What are you going to do to make room for this Lent, and how do you want to feel about that? Take it to the journal!
About the Author
About the Author
My name is Nora Franche. I am a Certified Catholic Mindset Coach, trained by Metanoia Catholic. I use the tools of mindset coaching to help people find healing and transformation through the identification of lies and unhelpful belief patterns that are keeping them from the life of fulfillment and joy that God intended for them. In undoing these mental and emotional ties, they are empowered to live the life they were created to live in the freedom of mental clarity, emotional integrity and connection with God.