As Lent comes to a close, we may be grappling with any number of emotions. Perhaps relief if we are looking forward to partaking in a behavior from which we tried to abstain (or, for that matter, if we undertook a challenge that has been burdensome).
Maybe we are feeling a renewed sense of joy and perspective in our spirituality. Meeting the God of surprises in our prayer lives can mean a faith sea change for Lent and beyond.
If you are like me, however, you might be experiencing a twinge of regret. This feeling is actually not an uncommon one when I reach the end of anything, whether it is a book, a school year or a vacation. An insidious sense of the imperfection surrounding my effort somehow hones in, and all I can think about is how I could have done better. Why didn’t I pray a few more minutes each day? Why didn’t I adopt more discipline in fasting?
These are not entirely unhelpful reactions. As human beings, we should strive to grow and improve ourselves. But in general, these responses miss the point on several fronts.
First, we all ought to get used to inadequacy. None of us are perfect, and nothing we do will ever be perfect. For me, the realization that I have some weaknesses that exceed my willpower to change them is one of the more convincing arguments for a savior who maintains his divinity while embracing our humanity. It is not a submission to defeat so much as it is an admission of the fact that I cannot do it alone, that I need someone trudging along with me.
Further, this fear that I bungled Lent fails to acknowledge that Lent is not the end of the story. In a season that is entirely based on a death that leads to new life, surely it makes sense to trust that whatever fumbles we had can still lead to second chances.
Though Lent has almost come to a close, it is not too late to encounter God in this holiest of seasons.