Preparing for the Journey

By Jenny Dendinger

I don’t know about you, but I have never been great at Lent. I have this bad habit of fixating on a “no pain, no gain” mindset, and, in the end, it typically causes me more harm than good.

That might work well for some, but I usually fall flat on my face. Instead of bringing me closer to God, I am left feeling like a complete failure in the first few weeks.

I know that’s not what God wants.

This year, I’ve been praying for God’s guidance as I work to correct my Lenten mindset. When I focus on choosing what will be the most challenging, I run the risk of distorting the entire point. It isn’t about finding that one big sacrifice that will prove my love to God. It’s also not as simple as just giving up my favorite candy.

So, how can I plan and prepare for the journey in a way that will bring me closer to God?

This year, I began with a fruitful discussion with my kids. I encouraged them to think back on the sacrifices and changes they’ve made in previous years. What did they learn during that time? How did it improve their spiritual life?

Then, I asked them to privately consider anything that might be causing a distraction from putting God first. What sins are they bringing to confession? What vices are behind those sins, and what virtues do they need to strengthen?

Of course, it never fails. Whenever I attempt to teach my kids something, God is always smiling behind the lesson as he gently speaks to my heart and teaches me.

In addition to bringing some clarity to where God needs my focus, he also took that opportunity to remind me that a successful Lent isn’t always a perfect Lent. I need to mentally prepare myself for the possibility of failure. Then, if and when I face the temptation to obsess over perfection, I’ll be ready to toss out a “Get behind me, Satan!” and get back to work.

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