I’ve never been good with New Year’s resolutions. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good self-improvement plan. I’m a personal-growth junky. But every year, without fail, at the stroke of midnight on December 31, a switch flips inside me. If I were a cat, I think it would look something like this.
On December 31 and for the several months preceding, I’m on a holiday (apple-cider, pumpkin-donut, green-bean-casserole, friends-and-family, Christmas-decorating-and-cookie-eating) high. It’s so fun and so busy and so full. School starts and every day following is like one paper-chain link closer to the BIG day. Even snow is a welcome sign that the Christmas countdown is on. I’m full of hope, optimism, anticipation, joy. Then hop-skip-jump a few days after the 25th and we gather again with friends to celebrate the culmination of a-whole-nother year’s passing – and the fact that we made it through alive with only minor bumps, bruises and scarring.
Then January 1 happens. (Refer to sad cat for a visual aid.) The holidays are over and suddenly I’m staring a Michigan January right in the face. It’s breath-taking, like the kind of breath-taking when you walk outside and it’s so cold it literally steals your breath away. The kind where you think you might never breathe a normal, warm breath again. The kind where you’ll probably just die a shallow, cold breath death right there on the spot. That kind.
That’s where I find myself at the moment. Smack dab in the middle of a breath-taking Michigan winter. I’m frozen. I haven’t felt my toes since, well, January 1. My boots, my pants, my coat, my gloves, my car are white and dusty with salt stains. Snow isn’t pretty anymore. It’s dirty. Skiing, sledding, snowshoeing. It’s just so cold. And snow days? Entire days devoted to snow? Don’t get me started.
Yet, just as I’m about to reach the pinnacle of my pity party by crawling into bed at 2:30 on a Wednesday afternoon to start googling “real estate San Diego,” I remember. And I begin to melt – a little.
It’s a blast of hot air.
A warm, welcomed interruption.
Lent. It’s starting soon.
Our life zips by or trudges along – depending on where you live in January – unchecked and automatic. Just as one cold day blends into the next into the next into the next and then … Lent happens and interrupts our “rote trajectory,” as one of my favorite authors Jen Hatmaker says.
In the middle of my winter ranting – Why do I feel so lonely? What am I doing? Where are you, God? Why did you create winter? – Lent comes like a heatwave, like a 40-day (46 days to be exact) respite from the cold.
It’s a six-week interruption from my life’s unchecked and automatic default mode. It’s a six-week interruption to:
Return to God
Renew our faith
Re-focus our lives
Reflect on Jesus – his suffering, his sacrifice, his life, death and resurrection
Take up something new
I love Lent. I can feel my anticipation rising. The feeling is starting to come back in my toes (that could be Lent or the -30 Below Thermal Winter Knee Socks I have been sporting for the past few weeks).
I haven’t determined my action plan for Lent yet. But I know I’m in need of a big interruption. Like a bad-habit changing, no Facebook, fast from food, sacrifice my time, money, comfort for others kind of interruption. I’ll keep you posted on what I decide.
What about you? Ash Wednesday – Lent’s kickoff – begins two weeks from yesterday. What’s your plan? Let me know. Lent isn’t meant to be a solo operation. Let’s do this together.
If you’re overwhelmed and not sure where to even start thinking about Lent, check out some of these resources.