Now that Lent is indeed almost over, as we're looking back, I have to be honest about these almost 40 days. We took Lent by the horns this year. It was hard. We went full-throttle and gave up a whole bunch of really lovely things. It was extremely hard at times not to eat that piece of chocolate. But we did learn - oh boy did we learn- a whole bunch. All of us. The whole family!
So, the question remains: what- exactly- did we learn during Lent this year?
First of all, we learned to pray more.
In the afternoons, when I usually have my cup of tea and read while the kids nap, I often felt a slight depression at having decided to limit caffeine and my intake of hot tea. During those times, I usually prayed. I found it so hard not to resort to my usual compulsive behavior: checking all of the social media apps on my phone, while sipping a soda or hot beverage. Praying the hours gave me stability and a cohesiveness that I needed in the middle of the day, and as it turns out, more than I needed caffeine. That was not an easy lesson to come, but once prayer became more of a habit, I was so glad. It was then easier to reroute to a good book in the afternoons and evenings. My one regret is that we didn't take up the habit of praying more as a family. Now we have the impetus to put that on the agenda for Eastertide!
Second, we learned that it can often be hard to wait.
We learned that it can be hard to wait for Sundays- the opportunity to rest from our Lenten penance and sacrifices. We also learned the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. And when he takes something away, he doesn't always give us something in its place.
For example, our babysitter stopped coming somewhat abruptly three or four weeks ago, and I tried to quickly replace her. I had to learn the hard way that that wasn’t going to cut it. The girl I tried to hire forgot about the babysitting job, and ended up being a no-show, and didn't call or text me as to why. I hate admitting it, but I became bitter in the midst of those difficult circumstances. In my bitterness, I begged Stephen, “Please pray for me; pray that she would get in touch.” Soon, she texted me back and said… not sorry, but…. “I don’t think it’s going to work out. I got a job at a Preschool. Have a great week.” I told Stephen I had a very strong temptation that I had to resist to tell her, “Well thanks for the information. And have a great life.” Ha. I resisted the temptation to say anything like that. I did ask her if she had any good recommendations for a replacement. I was still bitter later, even though my Mom offered to help out and I even got to run errands that same day, and ended up purchasing Molly’s Easter dress and shoes.
Third, we learned that God also rewards our sufferings. Not always, but sometimes.
While we gave up TV, and felt quite a bit of empty time and space in it's absence, we had a lot of little rewards for this suffering. For one thing, Spring came early and we had lots of nice, hot sunny days here in the South to enjoy. For another thing, our girls became quite the iPad aficionados. They added new and often hard and impressive games to their repertoire. We saw them work together and learn how to share and take turns. Because of a screaming fit, one daughter didn't get her turn on the iPad one day, but learned from it. And on Sundays, we enjoyed a fun time of relaxation and a good movie each week. (Did you know that Lent is 40 days NOT counting Sundays? So yeah, it is totally legit- even scientifically- to “rest” from your absention on Sundays).
Fourth, we are hoping more deeply for Easter Sunday.
Our girls have had a clear picture of fasting, sacrifice, and penance this Lent. In turn, my prayer for them is that they will have an even deeper picture of rejoicing, celebrating, and saying with full confidence and pure sincerity "Alleluia!" on Easter Sunday. These little penances are temporary, but with each one, we are planting in their hearts the seeds of the celebration that in turn will come their way shortly.
5. Worth it, in the end
Fifth, and finally, Lent was long this year, but all of our little “sufferings” were worth it in the end.
Pride filled my chest on multiple occasions over the little sacrifices my girls and boy made, often without any asking or complaining. None of us were perfect- I cheated and had chocolate ice-cream with Molly- and it was not a moment of forgetfulness. It was Baskin Robbins (major booby trap), and I was pregnant, tired, and starving. But all of us learned and grew through this time and I can tell you for sure: we are better people for having kept our Lenten fasts. Bring on social media, tv, caffeine, and chocolate this Eastertide. You’re going to have to roll me down the stairs when it’s over.
The words of one of my favorite hymns has been a great comfort during these forty days. I especially love the third and fourth verses.
Happy Easter, one and all.
Linking up with Jenna @ Call Her Happy
Cross-posting at ACWB