What Should You Do If You Stumble This Lent?

Millennial editor Robert Christian writes:

This Lent, many of us are giving something up or establishing a new daily practice, but it’s not at all uncommon that we’ll stumble along the way. At this point, the question becomes what to do next, and for the perfectionists among us, finding that answer isn’t always easy….

If you’ve abstained from meat on Lenten Fridays, you’ve probably had the distinctly unpleasant experience of eating a delicious cheeseburger for lunch, then suddenly realizing what day it was. But the day is not ruined, the person is not ruined. The next meal offers the next opportunity to get back on track.

Perhaps you have tried to give up profanity, but then are suddenly cut off in traffic and seemingly transformed in an instant into Samuel L. Jackson on a plane with an inordinate number of snakes. Maybe you have committed to doing some spiritual reading every day or reaching out to a friend, but the day has flown by or it has simply slipped your mind.

It is okay to come up short, and it is okay to be disappointed. But instead of looking for excuses or giving up, the key is to just pick yourself back up and keep moving forward. The next day, do two readings or reach out to two friends. Be extra focused or careful with your language or in whatever way you are breaking with previously entrenched behavior. Anticipate potential potholes so it’s easier to avoid them. Instead of cashing out, double down….

Every mistake or wrong decision can drag us down into dejection and despair — or, we can fight back against those impulses, trusting in the infinite mercy and patience of God….

Lent can help us to reorient our relationship with God, others, and the world around us. But to do so, we have to keep moving forward, even if we stumble along the way.