So you’ve decided to do Lent this year. Yay! You’ve taken the time to find a discipline that really speaks to you: meatless Fridays, daily prayer, no more Starbucks, whatever practice that will bring you closer to God this season. The week following Ash Wednesday went great. Week one was fine, but there were struggles. Then disaster strikes! On Tuesday of week two you broke down and got that venti triple mocha latte because there was no way you were going to make it through the day without it. What do you do?!
The first thing is: Don’t Panic. It happens to everyone. I personally forget to say Morning Prayer a lot. The reality of life is that you will slip up; you will get lost in the day; you will forget. Be generous with yourself. There is no monk, nun, priest, pope, vestry member, or other person of any type or description who is perfect or has never messed up their Lenten discipline.
Second, it is not a sin! Drinking that Diet Coke or having a cheeseburger on a Friday is not the same as murder. Many of the things we like to think of as big sins don’t even register when it comes to thinking about the weightier issues of justice for the poor, care for the most vulnerable, and loving the unloved.
Lastly, start again. Whenever we fall down, we get back up. This is part of human life; this is part of following Jesus. When we fail at small things it is a chance for us to prepare for failing at the big things. When we are broken in small things we get a chance to practice at the larger breaks in our life. All failure is a chance for a fresh start. All breaks are a chance for healing. We are not made of glass. We do not shatter completely.
So if you Lenten discipline isn’t going quite to plan, that’s ok! Be gentle and generous with yourself. Take a deep breath. Start again.