So, You’ve Already Failed Lent

by Brandon Ocampo

It’s the end of the first week of Lent. During the Season of Lent, we make special promises to give up certain things. Some people even take on extra things like more prayer, reading, etc. Now that we’re a good number of days in, chances are you find yourself in one of two camps:

  • You’ve kept your Lenten promises perfectly.
  • You’ve gone off track, failed, and given up.

Now to be fair, this is a little exaggerated of what our reality often is, but maybe you really have done everything perfectly. That’s awesome! You’ve held out, and that’s something to be happy about! However, if this Lent has already not been what you hoped it would be, then this blogpost is for you.

Failure isn’t the end.

We sometimes get so caught up in what we think our Lent should be that we forget to live in the reality of what our Lent is. Does that track with you? We want the Instagram-worthy kind of Lent — the kind of Lent that makes us look holier and more put-together than we actually are.

To quote Katie Prejean McGrady: “We don’t win Lent. We don’t have ‘best Lents ever.’ We have Jesus, who tries to get closer to us during this time.” Take heart, friend. Messing up and not fulfilling your Lenten promises isn’t the end, even though it often feels like it is.

We can learn from failure.

It’s true: we can learn from our mistakes and failures. This can be a good opportunity to examine the last week. Look closely at what has happened in your life and try to see why you might’ve failed. I know that the times I have failed, it’s because I tried to take on too much. This is a good time to re-strategize and to come up with new, maybe realistic, promises.

You might not be able to pray every mystery of the rosary in one day, but can you promise our dear Lord just one? You might not be able to read a book of the Bible a day, but could you devote 15 minutes to reading it?

Give yourself the grace and patience that you would extend to anyone else who was struggling. God does want us to draw closer this Lent, but it’s not always in the way and manner we think it should be.

We can always begin again.

Death is not the end: this is the reality of our lives. In the same vein, failure isn’t the end, and we can always start over. After you’ve looked back and examined your last week, and you have strategized a new plan, begin again. After all, you can only really fail and mess up if you aren’t doing anything at all.

No matter how “small” you may think your promises are, if they are done with a willing heart, the Father will delight in you. Our promises exist to help us deepen our love for God and draw us closer to Him. They exist to serve us and to help us grow. Christ wants to be closer to us and is with us every step of the way.

No matter how the rest of your Lenten season goes, know that our Heavenly Father is cheering you on. Our Lenten promises are not things we hope to hold up as some kind of achievement but avenues to deepen our relationship with the Lord.

When we shift to that perspective, messing up or failing on a promise isn’t the end, it’s an opportunity to be vulnerable and honest with the God who would rather die than spend eternity without us.