Have you ever had one of those days when your best just didn’t seem good enough? You then start to think that what you’re doing isn’t the best you can do. Sometimes that’s true, if you average out against your whole life. But at the moment, it’s all you can do.
Lent seems to bring those days more often, perhaps because we are paying attention to what we are doing. At the very least, one needs to pay attention to the day of the week, so that meat is not consumed on Fridays. For me, I’ve expanded my no-chocolate-eating days during Lent from three last year to four this year, and in doing so, I’ve changed the days I allow myself to have a treat. It makes me stop and think, more than just the day of the week and not so much ‘can I eat this’ but ‘should I eat this.’ I’ve found myself thinking that I should be fasting more and pondering how can I do better with almsgiving. Perhaps this is to help prepare me for next year’s Lent, but for now, it’s only serving anxiety that my best is not good enough.
Taking a deep look at ourselves, our actions and attitudes is a good thing and can help us see areas that we need to cultivate and grow stronger. It’s not meant to deflate what we are doing because it is not “enough”. However, God loves us just as we are in this very moment, warts and all. In our moments when we’d like to say, “I just can’t do this anymore,” we need to remember the cross. Jesus conquered when He gave His life for us on the cross. But our struggles have merit too, especially when we offer them up to be combined with Jesus’ suffering. While it may not be our personal best, we can offer our challenges as a small good thing to be multiplied beyond what our personal best could provide.
Jesus tells the story of the persistent widow and the unrighteous judge, who eventually provides a just ruling because of the widow’s continuous pleading. (Luke 18:1-8) While this particular story is primarily about praying constantly, it can serve as a reminder that we always need to give our best, even when it seems lacking.