Lent As A Practice Rather Than A Perfection

Lent has not been going well for me.

One of the downsides to home-churching is that every planned activity falls on my husband and my shoulders, and we didn’t even realize when Easter fell as we made our Spring Break plans. Prepping for Lent? Not even on the horizon.

The day of Ash Wednesday (thank goodness for those foreheads) I explained to my children that Lent was a time to grow closer to God and we should chose something to do every day as a family.

We often practice what I deem “Tenl.” Not exactly Lent backwards but instead of sacrifice, we add something positive to our lives. It’s not that sacrifice is bad, but over the last decade I stopped smoking, cursing, speeding, and I never liked chocolate so I don’t have a lot to give up. One year, I decided to add something that was equally as misery-inducing as taking any of those away would be for someone else: daily exercise {shudder} Thus, Tenl was born.

And for younger children, I think the idea of adding a time of prayer or making a card-a-day for a family, friend or person in need is more meaningful developmentally than taking away a television show for God.

My son immediately responded to my Tenl request for ideas, “We should JUMP.”

Now, he meant literally jump but not because he believes God is in the sky. We did a lesson through A Joyful Path, Children’s Curriculum, where we put a paper on the wall and measured how high we could jump on our own and compared it to jumping while our family cheered and prayed to see if we could jump higher with God. My son loved this lesson, and my suspicious heart was shocked at the outcome because even though I believe in God, I’ll never get used to neon light demonstrations.

My son was saying, “We should spend a few minutes every day cheering for each other and God.” What a fantastic idea that I failed to implement. I’m having health issues. My husband’s grandmother passed away. Our puppy had emergency surgery. We still have to work, get the kids to school, clean, file taxes, grocery shop, sleep, cook, eat, within all of that unexpected life happening last month.

Not too long ago, I would’ve thrown up my hands and given up on Lent and Easter. I would’ve thought, “We’ve already missed weeks of it. God has crossed us off his list as I’m sure the church-going Christians, who have been reminded every Sunday of Jesus’ story and upcoming sacrifice, have too.” But more recently, I’ve let my God grow bigger than assumptions of human perfection. I am supposed to fall down, and while I feel God in the rituals of Christianity, I also know that rituals are a small part of the great practice of loving God’s children and acknowledging God’s presence in the world around us and within us.

Lent is about growing closer to God, and my inability to be the practicing Christian mom I want to be this Lenten season has forced me to lean into God more than ever and be reminded of great news: At any given time, Lent or no Lent, I can jump and down with my kids and holler about God, and He will welcome the news.

We can start today.

About the writer: Alex Iwashyna went from an undergraduate degree in political philosophy to a medical doctor to a stay-at-home mom, writer and Christian by 30. Now she spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog, except when it’s serious, about life, parenting, marriage, culture, religion and politics. She has a muse of a husband, two young kids and a readership that gives her hope for humanity.

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