I started practicing Lent when I was in high school. I do not attend a liturgical church, but in middle school I was introduced to the idea by the middle school youth group leader. I admit, part of my interest was Catholic-envy, and part of it was personal; I don’t think much of it, in high school, was spiritual. All I knew, at that point, was I was supposed to give up something, so that was what I did and it always went well, from my point of view. I would give up something like ice cream, or chocolate, or sweets, and usually about halfway through the 40 days I didn’t care anymore if I had ice cream or whatever on Sunday. I took that as what a successful Lent looked like. That’s what I had in mind for this year, too. The last post I wrote was full of all my plans for what I was going to accomplish, and how I was going to feel at the end of the Lenten season.
And then I failed miserably. For the first time, Lent has been a season for me not of success and doing something, but of failing and trying and failing again. In high school I would give up something like ice cream, and find myself not even caring to eat it, halfway through the fast. This year, not even close. Over and over, I have told myself I will not think those thoughts, and I will not put that food in my mouth, and end up brainlessly doing both. I made plans for how I would give to charity, and never followed through. Why? Because I have no more willpower or self control, maybe. Because I am a sinner? Definitely.
Lent is for sinners. Lent reminds me that I am a sinner, and reminds me of my need for a Savior, drawing me closer to Jesus Christ. Even the fact that I have failed miserably tells me that I need Jesus. So this Easter, I will not feel accomplished, or successful. Part of me hopes for a little peace, but all I really want is for the guilt to be gone. Lent reminds me that Jesus Christ came to save sinners. I put myself in the place of the sinner, and suddenly Easter takes on a whole new meaning; redemption becomes reality, as I am given another day, another chance, a new life. Lent is for sinners, for sufferers, for anyone who knows that darkness just before dawn. And it is always darkest just before dawn.