I was trying to answer the Lent question. My friend said, “Describe the feeling that people are experiencing that observing Lent could help with.”
I wrote, “You feel frustrated with faltering again on goals and resolutions.”
And I laughed. The truth is that many of us describe our failures. We started the year with a commitment to be more encouraging to our friends or to ask God for help with more of our decisions. We started with a commitment to workout somehow every day or to read a book every week.
And now, less than two weeks into the year, we’ve failed. Just like we always do.
What if, for a moment, we substituted the word “falter” for the word “fail”?
When you falter, you have to catch a breath, you have to refuel, you have to ask for a hand.
But you aren’t starting over. You haven’t failed.
The ancient church didn’t approach the new year with resolutions. They offered seasons and practices. For four weeks before Christmas, they practiced anticipation. It helped them appreciate the apparent anticlimax of an infant king. For six weeks between Ash Wednesday and Easter, they practiced restraint. It helped them appreciate the seeming failure of the death of the servant king, and the celebration of resurrection.
So for Lent, the time before Easter, we give up and embrace. We make room for listening by giving up noise. We make room for appreciating food by giving it up some meals. We acknowledge that we falter in our walks with God and each other, and that we need to seek help from each to keep walking.
I understand the feeling of fearing failure. It often keeps me from starting. But if I know that though I may falter, there is help, I may begin the journey that can transform me. Again.