It’s only the second week of Lent and already I feel like a failure. Maybe that’s a good thing.
If you remember the movie Groundhog Day where the character re-lived the same day over and over again, the last few days have seemed very similar for me. Each day it seemed like I was always running late, fumbling with whatever I needed to carry, and just when I thought things at work couldn’t get more challenging… well you get the idea. It was like everything was conspiring against me. I know that’s not true, but when you’re trying to live through it, it’s hard not to think that way. Luckily all the issues are really minor annoyances, but when they all stack up together, it can be overwhelming. One morning, in a short burst of clarity, I offered these trials up to Jesus for Lent. Many times when I do this, things don’t seem to be too bad. This time though, the challenges seemed to crank up in intensity.
What really bothered me most was after getting rather exasperated at work about how something was handled, I remembered the gospel for that day had Jesus saying that anyone who called their brother a fool would be liable to fiery Gehenna (Matthew 5:20-26). While I might not have said it aloud, I had certainly passed judgement about the individuals involved with that same sentence.
What these trials have shown me is just how much I daily rely on God’s mercy and grace. In a way, my failure to respond to these in a Christian manner has revealed some habitual sins that I need to work on and be more cognizant. In addition to being sorrowful, I am encouraged that these situations have opened my eyes and my heart, so that I can let God into these areas and help me become a better person. Isn’t that what Lent is all about; opening our hearts to God for Him to work His mercy and grace in us?
Perhaps true failure is when nothing changes. There are still a few more weeks of Lent to go and, even if it is a bit painful, I trust in God’s mercy to see me through and His grace to help me. And these trials? They are nothing more than opportunities to practice what I believe.