Last year, one of my most commented-on blog posts on the photo blog was something I had written at the beginning of Lent. I was surprised to learn (a) how many people actually read the blog and (b) how many people struggle with the same things I do around this time of year. Given that Ash Wednesday is TOMORROW (what?!?) I thought it might be worth sharing the post again. I’ve updated the wording to reflect the current year, but everything else is the same. If you want to read the original post, you can find it here.
Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of the Lenten season. I cannot believe Lent is already here…I knew it was early, we were all told it was coming early whether at church or through different blogs or social media posts, but it still snuck up on us.
And yet, I am finding that Lent couldn’t have started at a better time. The season leading up to Easter has always been my favorite, even more than Advent. I kind of view Lent as the Catholic’s second chance at New Year’s resolutions. Growing up, I would hear friend talk about what they were giving up for 40 days. Sweets? Always a good one. Not getting mad at your siblings? Awesome. As we get older, these Lenten promises change to social media fasts or coffee breaks. It’s amusing to hear people compare what they are giving up, like who’s going to have the harder time living without whatever they gave up.
In recent years though, my outlook on Lent has evolved, as is probably typical when one grows older. Before, I used to like hearing about what other people were doing for Lent, not really to compare myself, I just always found it interesting. I did admire those who were doing something a little more daring, like the coffee fast.
I can’t remember when the change actually happened, but one year when listening to the reading at Mass I finally understood…God doesn’t necessarily care if you tell people you are doing for Lent. And really, we shouldn’t care if people know either.
Forgive me if that sounds harsh, but let me explain. Last year, I wrapped up a wonderful class with the incredibly talented Jennifer Tonetti-Spellman, called REWIND. It is all about letting go of the “noise” that is standing in between you are your creativity. (Awesome class and teacher by the way, you should check out her work!) Anyway, during one of the weeks, she mentioned an article that talked about the concept of “Eyes on your own paper.” We heard it all the time at school, right? The author basically says that this should be applied elsewhere in life, which was a brilliant and mind-blowing concept for me. That has been a resounding message that I have kept replaying in my head…eyes on your own paper, your own work, your own life. There is no point in trying to gauge your progress in life by benchmarking against others, nor is it worth standing back in judgment either. You don’t know the path that they are on, how they got where they are, and what battles they are facing…and the same can be said for you. Of course, this doesn’t mean that compassion should fall to the wayside. Rather, I think it opens the door for you to love on others without restraint or hesitation, because you don’t have to focus on how your journey compares to theirs.
I love this. The same can be said for Lent. Eyes on your own promises. Focus on your relationship with God this season. All He wants is a little bit of time with you, He doesn’t need much else (I am saying this to me too, don’t worry). If you do, in fact, celebrate Lent I encourage you to make the choices and promises based on how you feel, what you want to achieve this season. It is such a beautiful, reflective time of the year. I hope that once Easter comes you feel refreshed and full of hope.