I was invited to a family’s home for dinner. They were celebrating the birthday of their fifth-grade daughter. When I arrived I found that there were five other fifth-grade girls who also had been invited. As soon as dinner was over the girls went into action. Footbaths, pedicures, hair-curling, makeup, and a few other cosmetic embellishments the likes of which I had never seen. I don’t have any sisters so I was in foreign territory. I kept a safe distance and let them know how very content I was just to observe.
It was right before the beginning of Lent. As I was driving home I reflected on how happy and delighted the girls were to be transformed and adorned. It inspired me to begin the season of Lent with that same attitude. After all, isn’t that what Lent is about? It’s a season of spiritual makeover. We are being transformed and beautified in God’s grace.
There are just a couple of weeks left in this season of preparation. Maybe we could all renew our resolve and kick it up a notch as we head toward Palm Sunday and Holy Week. This is graced time.
Lenten resolutions are more powerful and meaningful than New Year’s resolutions. According to one report over 90% of New Year’s resolutions fail. I think that’s because New Year’s resolutions focus so much on us. We begin the New Year, for example, intending to be healthier or more disciplined or somehow better. There is almost always some sort of self-help aspect at the heart of our New Year’s resolutions.
Lenten resolutions seek self-improvement too but it comes about as we take the focus off of us. We fast to deny ourselves. We give alms to bless others. We pray and lift our gaze to God. Even when we slip or fail we still can be moving forward – because by keeping our gaze on God we experience more deeply our own weakness and limitations in the light of God’s unlimited mercy, faithfulness, and forgiveness. Whenever we do that we are transformed.
Lenten resolutions are far more meaningful than New Year’s resolutions and far, far more powerful. We make them for a greater glory.
In these final weeks of Lent why not double-down? Give up meat for two days a week. Double your daily prayer time. If you gave up chocolate, give up soda or TV too. Whatever you gave to the needy, give that much again. Give it to God. Give it for God. It’s liberating. It brings peace. You will delight in the beauty of it.
There is just a short time left. Finish Lent beautifully.