In my minds eye there is a picture of who I want to be and who I wish I already was. So every year when Lent comes around I see it as a time to become that person. I say to myself, "Caitlin, this year is the year you get your act together. You will wake up at 7am. You will clean your house. You will say your prayers. You will eat healthy meals, repairing your relationship with food. This lent, you will be a saint!" And then I don't. I wish I could say that I even give it the good ol' college try. But typically by the first Sunday of Lent, reality has set in and I get discouraged. And the devil LOVES that. So I pretend that my Lent is going well. I do a good deed here or there. I offer up my daily struggles for a few days. I try to be kinder to my family (which really just looks like me apologizing more). But at the end of Lent, I say to myself, "Boy, that was a fail. Aw, well, there is always next year."
This year, as I was pondering what this Lent will be, I saw myself falling into that trap again. I started thinking how I want to pray more, so I thought about committing to getting up early and praying for 40 minutes in the morning. I started thinking about how I want to use my time better, so I started dreaming up a hard-and-fast routine I would following for all of Lent. I was thinking about how I would like to improve my health and eating habits so, 'naturally,' that would mean I give up all chocolate, chips, tv shows, bread, ice cream, cheese, bacon, popcorn, chicken nuggets, sitting, and I would start waking up early and running outside for an hour everyday.
A few things about me.
1) I love sleep almost as much as I love chicken nuggets.
2) I have an extremely difficult time falling asleep at night, especially before 1am.
3) I am very unfit and I have always suffered from back, hip and knee pain.
Thankfully, God called me to prayer in this moment and woke me up to my folly. My yearly follies I should say. I can't make myself into a different person just by force of will. I will not get up earlier then I have to. Years of throwing my hair in a ponytail instead of getting up to take a shower has proven that. I can't make me a saint. Only God can work in my life to reveal who he created me as. I just need to be open to Him.
So God opened my eyes to my reality right now.
Yes, it would be great and wonderful to pray for 40 minutes a day. REALITY IS: I don't even pray for 10 minutes straight a day right now.
Yes, it would be amazing to wake up early and exercise for an hour. REALITY IS: I don't even do 30 minutes of exercise A WEEK.
SO, my simple Lent plan, which should prove to be very challenging considering where I am right now, is 15 minutes of prayers a day and 15 minutes of exercise a day.
15 minutes for my soul +
15 minutes for my body =
30 minutes of giving all of me to God.
Other Lenten Add-On's:
Every year for lent I strip my house of all decor. I take down all the pictures. I put away all the knickknacks and mementos. I only leave up our crucifixes and one statue of Mary. This acts as like a fast for my eyes.
Also this year I will be participating in the 40 bags in 40 days challenge to help cut the clutter and break my attachment to material stuff in my life.