Lent: Mary & Martha & Hard to Measure Goals

***Originally Posted on 2/19/15 This is the last of my old posts crossing over. new content from here on out!***

I went to a great session of my church’s MOMS group last week. The topic was Lent and it left me with a lot to think about. Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Lent is, perhaps surprisingly, my favorite part of the liturgical year.  It has been a time to reflect and pray and make major changes in my daily and spiritual life. I usually go into Lent having a pretty clear idea of what I need to work on the most to draw closer to God, but I was extra appreciative of my church group last week because this year I am at a loss.

My favorite Ash Wednesday meme…

Since becoming a parent, so much has seemed to change and get thrown up in the air. I can feel on top of the world one day and at a total loss the next. The shenanigans questions of “balance” and “having it all” are constantly nagging at my head. I’m a multi-tasker by nature and suddenly I feel like I need to get all that multitasking I used to do done AND take care of my child AND contribute to start saving up for the next big life event. Everything is very full speed ahead and it has left me with very little time or mental space to really sit and contemplate what I need most in my spiritual life.

Luckily, one of our MOMS group facilitators suggested checking out this website and I ended up getting the Lenten journal that website came up with. The journal is called Only One Thing and it seems to be the perfect thing for me right now.  The title comes from a passage in Luke about Mary and Martha. Those of you who are not familiar with this story, Martha is a lot like most of us- she is trying to do ALL THE THINGS, especially because Jesus is visiting her and she wants it all to be perfect for him. Her sister, Mary, is sitting at Jesus’ feet, being with him, listening to him, not necessarily doing anything the world would judge as “productive” which of course makes Martha angry. She asks Jesus to tell Mary to help her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things: there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

So I’m going to prayerfully work my way through this journal which gives you one word a day to focus on with the day’s readings. The focus of my Lent this year is scary for me because it seems the things I’m supposed to abstain from are over-commitment and guilt. It would be much easier to keep track of giving up chocolate or hot sauce. It’s scary because the world won’t necessarily see or understand these sacrifices as they would with a good natured teasing session when people aren’t eating hamburgers on Fridays. It is scary because odds are good I will fail multiple times over these 40 days, and I REALLY like to succeed. I like being the straight A student. I like being able to check something off my to-do list and those things need to be easily measured. I like having visible, outward indications of my achievements. I am such a Martha.

Trying to break this way of thinking…

I am excited and nervous for what this season will bring. Lent is a beautiful time of reflection and sacrifice and change. I wrote in some comments earlier that perhaps the surprise “B” in my year of Bs is Bravery. It takes a lot of bravery to let go of the plans you have, to be uncertain about what is next, and to trust that God will take care of it and will love you as much through your failures as your successes.


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