Lenten Flops and Failures

Dear Spiritual Pilgrims,

In many fourth weeks of Lent I have wanted to roll my eyes and throw in the towel. Let’s just get to Easter so that I don’t have to feel like a total failure at my spiritual discipline any longer! my heart has said.

Indeed, there have been years, when, by this time in the season of Lent, if I haven’t been consistent in keeping my mind and heart focused on clearing space in my life for God to remove some of the out-grown habits and soul-clutter—I give up. Perhaps you have been there, too.

I would like to suggest that it is precisely this kind of genuine heartache that God is referring to when we read, “Even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart…rend your hearts and not your clothing” (Joel 2: 12a, 13). God does not wish for us to just go through the motions of Lent, nor to ignore the Love embracing us each day out of a sense of guilt or unworthiness.

Just the opposite.

Something begins to shift inside our very Being when we bring to God all the emotions we are struggling with: overwhelm, self-disappointment, fear from preoccupation with matters out of our control, regret for not having said or done something more helpful, etc.

If you have the notion to cut out for yourself a small paper heart (the kind you made in grade school for valentines), try holding it in your hand while you share with God whatever hurts, fears, or failures you’re feeling today.

If you are moved to tear it into shreds while you pour out your heart, or just symbolically tear it in half when you’re finished praying, place it in a special place you will see each day till Easter.

Bring to mind these words (or some of your own choosing) whenever your eyes fall upon that small bit of torn paper, which is the most beautiful Lenten offering possible: “I give you my heart, O God, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

With Love and Light for your faithful courage,

Chaplain LeAnn

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