February is the worst — the absolute worst. It really is, and I know we’re supposed to get out our gratitude journals and look for the positives contained within the worst month of the year — but today, I’d rather complain about it.
I don’t want to be grateful for February. I’d rather despise February and pray it passes by quickly. At least it’s only 28 days — so I guess that is a positive — but beyond that, I have little else good to say about it.
I’d probably like February if I could lay in bed all day, watching English dramas while ignoring the many things that need to get done — but I can’t do that, and therefore I greatly dislike February.
Last Sunday we heard the readings of Job, lamenting the futility of life. With his final words, “I shall not see happiness again” I thought to myself, I bet it was February in the land of Uz — for there have been many Februarys of my life where I, too, felt like Job did.
In recent years, though, I have to say I have seen a little progress. Slowly, God is helping me to see the value of Februarys — with all it’s drudgery and opportunities to offer up so many irksome things contained within it.
Yes, I’m willing to admit, it might actually be good for me.
In a few days, it will be Ash Wednesday, and I can think of no better month for Lent to begin in than February.
As an aside, Ash Wednesday also happens to fall on Valentine’s Day, and for some reason, I can’t help but envision some nice guy out on a first date with a special girl, trying to have a serious conversation looking like this:
If you refer to this chart, I believe this ash patter follows under the category, “Father’s Revenge”. Poor guy. Well, he probably deserved it.
But back to Lent. The good news is that February is a ready-made Lent in many ways — and if I fail to keep my Lenten resolutions, at least I know I’m already suffering because it’s February.
I know, though, that I can’t just rely on February to get me through this Lent. I need a more practical plan maximizing this time of grace called Lent.
Lent means “spring” and it’s about renewing faith, hope and charity in our lives. It’s about rediscovering the joy in our faith, the same kind of joy we would experience if we came upon a spring after thirsting in the desert.
Lent is about finding what we truly are thirsting for — sounds amazing, doesn’t it?
The better prepared we are to be open to its graces, the more we likely we are to discover what we are truly thirsting for this Lent.
So, first things first: the “Why”. Why are we giving up or adding things during Lent?
It should all come down to love. We sacrifice for the ones we love. What will help me to love Christ and the people He has put in my life? Those things are the things that I should be focusing on this Lent.
Lent is also about facing those things we’ve been trying to ignore, those things that are actually draining us of joy and enthusiasm for this life. We’re not doing ourselves any favors by ignoring these things.
It’s time to stare them straight in the face and do something about it.
It makes me think about my bathroom wall. If you saw my Instagram story, you saw this already. This was my attempt at hanging a towel bar.
Why do I have at least 8 holes drilled into my wall? Because I don’t have the patience to drill one the right way. “Drill, baby, drill” That’s my motto. I did patch it once, and then I proceeded to drill in 8 more holes and I gave up altogether. That was five years ago.
It’s got me thinking. What gaping holes am I ignoring in my life? What things do I really need to focus on in my soul? Lent is a great time to prayerfully ask God to make that clear.
A good rule of thumb, if there’s any serious sin in your life, make that your primary focus in Lent. Get rid of the worst stuff first.
No use trying to give up chocolate if you’re not going to give up watching porn every night on the internet.
Granted, giving up chocolate can actually help you to give up porn, but don’t allow yourself to miss this opportunity to address the big things that are holding you back.
If nothing “big” comes to mind, then work on the things that will be of greatest benefit to the people around you. Trying to focus on virtues that will benefit others is a great way to keep your intentions more altruistic. Offering your sacrifices for others is also a beautiful way to enter into the spirit of Lent.
Now that we know the why, we need to work on the “what”. On a practical level, what will my Lent look like? Because I am part of a family, my focus is going to be on those things that are going to make me a more effective channel of grace and love for my family.
Then I’m going to come up with a four-pronged approach of prayer, fasting, penance and almsgiving to allow God’s grace to work in those areas of my life.
It’s not just my approach, it’s actually the Church’s approach to Lent as well, so it’s got a lot of wisdom behind it.
By the way, almsgiving is almost always Children Waiting Everywhere. I just know they’re going to do good things with their funds. Miss Naomi is over in Africa full time now, and I now she’s a great advocate of accountability. So that one’s easy for me.
I haven’t quite figured all my resolutions yet, but I think I want to incorporate giving the people around me my full attention.
I want to be more present in conversations and family life. This means putting distractions like phones away — but also trying to quiet down the mental distractions that are always popping up in my head.
Establishing healthy work times and even leisure times is a good and necessary component to being able to give people the attention they deserve, but it is a hard thing to balance with all the things we have to do in a day, isn’t it?
One way I think I’m going to incorporate focusing on my littles is by bundling up and getting outdoors with them.
Just the other day, the kids were getting stir crazy and the house was going south, and I just decided I needed to leave it all behind and take a breather outside with my littles.
After some time outdoors, we all felt so much better about the day, and I was ready to come in and tackle the tasks before me. It was good for all of us and it’s something I hope to incorporate into our Lent this year.
February is also ready-made for more indoor time, so part of my resolution is to address the lack of organization that is causing the most stress for our family. I can’t tackle it all, but I can begin with the worst offender: the laundry/mudroom.
It is a distraction for all of us and I know if things were less chaotic in that area, it would help us all to have the mental space to focus on the things that really matter.
There is a big connection between the mental and physical clutter in our lives, so clearing the clutter and getting things organized would be good service for the whole family.
So, part of my Lent will be a very practical attempt at organizing the shoes and socks and all the things that we are constantly screaming and scrambling to find on our way out the door. I hope this little thing will facilitate more peaceful departures from our house on a regular basis.
Who knows, maybe I’ll will even give me the motivation to fix that hole in my bathroom wall that I’ve been staring at for the last 5 year — no guarantees.
Small steps over here, but those small things can be great things when given to God. Don’t underestimate the great good God can do with your Lenten resolutions. Big changes often begin with one little step, so just focus on that next little step and see where it takes you.
Finally, be prepared for Lent to look nothing like what you envisioned. Be prepared to drop your chosen sacrifices and accept the ones God sends your way.
He knows what you need and He knows the most effective way to make your Lent powerfully transformative. Trust His plans and buckle up, because it just might be a bumpy ride.
Good luck and Godspeed! I’d love to know the Lenten resolutions that have made a big difference in your life.
Have a great weekend.
Sharing over at Kelly’s