On the Journey
By Rick Hamlin

How Are You Doing This Lent?

How are you doing with whatever you promised to do for Lent? I ran into a friend at the gym and asked him that question while he was adjusting weights. He laughed, “I don’t think I lasted for a day.” “Yeah,” I said, “but are you still trying?”

Isn’t that the part that really matters? As the Psalmist says, “Our sins are stronger than we are, but you will blot them out” (Psalm 65:3). Reaching for the good, trying for it, is just part of our faith. Trusting that God forgives when we fail.

I’ve been doing a casual survey of what people are doing for Lent, not just those who have given up candy or chocolate or cheese (my older son did that one year), but those who have taken on bigger spiritual challenges.

“I gave up gossip,” one friend said. “I can’t tell you how hard that is. Every day, maybe every hour, I have to stop myself in the middle of a story or edit myself or just tell myself to be quiet. It’s hard. But I’m glad I’m doing it. It’s made me aware of how often I do it.”

A business colleague confessed, “I pledged that I would be nice to one person a day, one person who normally drives me insane.”

“How is that going?”

She laughed. “I’ll get an email in the middle of the day and want to scream or email back, ‘Really? Enough already. Would you please leave me alone!’ OK, so I wouldn’t normally say that out loud, but I’m now a little bit more conscious. I don’t rush out to complain so quickly. There’s a mom at the kids’ school who usually drives me nuts. At least I’ve been able to think of her a little differently now and pray for her. It’s an exercise in selflessness.”

An exercise in selflessness. That sounds good to me. For anything you take on or give up at Lent. I still believe the trying is the doing, or as I say in my new book 10 Prayers You Can’t Live Without, “To try to pray is to pray. You can’t fail at it.”

We’re about halfway through Lent. Keep it up. It’s attention to the self for the larger goal of selflessness. Happy Lent.

Rick Hamlin is the executive editor of Guideposts magazine and the author of 10 Prayers You Can't Live Without. To learn more about the book and explore your own prayer journey, watch this video.

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