Lent, and what it’s NOT

Lent is here and it's time to get serious about prayer, fasting and almsgiving. But what the heck does that even mean?

Ash Wednesday is um, Wednesday. As much as I’d like to give up winter for Lent (dang you Texas spring, where you at?!), I think God wants me to dig a little deeper.

I’ve written a lot about Lent here on the blog over the last decade. I’ve chatted about how to make it meaningful for your kids, why we keep missing the point and why I want the world to know what it means (a la sassy Kathryn).

At the end of the day, it comes down to one simple question:

Are you willing to let yourself be transformed, or are you going to keep the death grip of control on your life?

I know what you’re thinking, that’s easier said than done, Kathryn. And you know what? You’re right. Lent isn’t about all talk, it’s about sacrifice. It isn’t showing off to your friends on social media about your piety, it’s about self-reflection. It isn’t using Sundays as an excuse to partake in the things we ‘gave up’ in the name of Jesus or about how cute our mantels look or how well our houses are “undecorated” for this barren liturgical season.

It’s about Jesus and just how much we’re willing to sacrifice to bask in his big, beautiful, bountiful love.

You and I? We like easy love.

When our kids are picking up their rooms or doing their chores without asking? Easy to love.

When our spouse cooks dinner or tells us how much we’re appreciated? Easy to love.

When our friends surprise us with vanilla Dr Peppers from Sonic? EASY TO LOVE.

When that random stranger buys our coffee or lets us merge in traffic? Easy to love.

But that ain’t life, y’all. Yes, Jesus is in the easy stuff, the beautiful stuff, the everyday stuff. But he does his best work in the hard stuff. We aren’t transformed by the resurrection, that happens on Good Friday. We appreciate and come to fully know the joy of Easter when we enter into suffering and penance during these 40 days.

A wise priest once encouraged me to start with what I bring to confession time after time. What am I really struggling with and how can I hand it to Jesus?

I mentioned on Instagram that Lent isn’t a weight-loss program, but it is a soul-building one. I don’t care if you give up Dr Pepper or ham sandwiches, alcohol or sweets, yelling at your kids or watching Netflix. What I do care about is much simpler. Can I see Jesus in you a little better on Easter than I could on Ash Wednesday? And, more importantly, can I see it in myself?

These 40 days aren’t magic. You aren’t going to be heaven-ready on Easter, but you might be a little closer. And isn’t that what Jesus asks of us?

I’m a spiritual mess, if I’m being 100% honest on the Internet (because if you can’t be honest here, where can you?!) We all are. As I peel back the layers of sinfulness that reside in my own heart, it’s an ugly walk of shame. This Lent, I have two things that really need my attention, God is begging me. So, I’m tackling them head on. I don’t expect miracles, but I do expect progress.

Whatever it is that has you holding back in your love for God, whatever the obstacle may be, bring it out into the light. Because sin cannot reside where Jesus is. Maybe you’ll share it with Instagram or maybe you won’t, but do me a favor and ask yourself this one question:

Does giving up X bring me closer to Christ?

And if the answer is yes, then get to it. Your 40 days of love being on Wednesday. Don’t waste them. Make them count.


  1. Ann Finch on March 4, 2019 at 1:15 pm

    Thank you for the meaningful reminders. Very sobering and helpful as I approach ash Wednesday.

  2. Michelle tucker on March 5, 2019 at 12:31 pm

    Well written! Thought provoking!

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