When I am working hard keeping up with the details of everyone’s life, putting out little fires here and there, keeping everyone around me happy— it is easy to go through the motions and put off tending to my heart for another day or season of my life.
In the busy, I am frequently weighed down by all that I expect myself to do. My to-do’s are probably similar to yours, the list populated with the Target runs, appointments, meetings, and important dates to remember. Then, there are the should-do’s, the things I think I should do, but never quite get around to actually doing. These unfinished projects sit like weight around my ankle. I drag them along unable to release the burden. The quiet hum of to-do list and “should-do projects” wears me out and reminds me of the times in the past when I did not measure up to my own expectations. In my new season of life, things are not quite as hectic. With more time to ponder, I recognize that a long to-do and should-do list kept me busy which became a shield that obscured my vision and threatened to block me from recognizing the immense grace of God.
When we are measuring our lives based upon the rubric established by the world— you are worthy if you are busy—we will never be able to accept the enormous gift of Jesus’ sacrifice in our day to day lives, because spending time soaking in His love is not in the rubric.
I have not always welcomed Lent, in fact there were years where I did not realize it was Lent until I saw people with ashes on their foreheads. In those years most particularly, I would take a flying leap into Lent to make up for my inattention. Without any prayer, I would zero in on the one habit I wanted to break and would resolve to use Lent to fix myself. But, by the first or second Friday of Lent I would catch myself eating meat or drinking a Diet Coke (because I have been trying to break that habit for years) and would quit Lent altogether silently promising myself that next year I would be a better Catholic.
I resented the season because I was just bad at Lent, so I gave myself a pass, figuring I was more of an Advent kind of a girl and I would eventually get around to “Having a Good Lent” one of these days.
One of those days has finally come!
Lent starts on March 5, which is right around the corner. In an effort to live the season in the way that will bring me closer to Christ rather than fix bad habits, I changed my approach to the season and prayed first. As I pondered what needed to change in my schedule to make more room for God, a new phrase kept coming to mind. “Waste time with me.”
If you have struggled with Lent in the past, I want to suggest a different way of fasting this year. Could you fast from being over scheduled? This will require letting go of a “to do” or a “should do” in order to “waste time with Jesus”.
What is one thing you can set aside from now until April 22?
How much time does that activity take in your calendar?
Block that time to be with Jesus. Write it down and protect this time.
Determine what to do in your time: Do things you would ordinarily consider a waste of time. Sit and watch the birds. Take a walk with Jesus without your phone. Enjoy some time in a comfy chair with the Psalms. Listen to praise music while you rest. Give yourself permission to just BE with Him.
If your to-do list crowds out time for contemplative prayer, most likely the time you set aside will feel like you “wasted” it when you sit still, pray, ponder, and rest. Jesus is waiting so very patiently for you to recognize His love. He wants to waste time with you, He wants to hear what is weighing on your heart and He wants to speak to you. He longs for you to recognize His merciful love.
I created two worksheets to help you this Lent. The first will help you plan which spiritual discipline is right for this season. The second is a place for you to keep track of your sacrifices.
What is playing in my ears and a new book:
I just listened to this podcast and thought you might like it as well. Father Josh is super inspiring and gave me a new perspective on many different topics. Claire, the host of The Catholic Feminist Podcast is a former FOCUS missionary who is now a young mother evangelizing the world with her new book and podcast.