Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Ignoring the Peanut Gallery During Lent

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Lent and I do not have a good relationship. I go kicking and screaming into these 40 days that begin tomorrow. I come crawling out after Easter. As far as I'm concerned, that's no way to celebrate a resurrection. If it wasn't for the food, I might abandon it altogether. Getting excited for a fast seems like getting excited to do the laundry.

Regardless of my feelings toward Lent, what I do appreciate is that Lent beckons me to evaluate my practices in faith and life in light of the grace of God. However, that grace in Lent seems in short supply. What I am often tempted to do is compare my own practices to others'. I doubt anyone cares what I do during Lent or what I think about the season; but Lent has a ring to it similar to Advent, with an imaginary Peanut Gallery saying to me, "you're doing it wrong." At least during Advent and Christmas, parties and music can mute or dull the Peanut Gallery. In Lent there are sour faces and self-flagellation, not to mention a lot more work. The Peanut Gallery is amplified.

If I can do anything during the grind of Lent, it is take my own opportunity to pay attention to God rather than the Peanut Gallery. Today that involved recognizing opportunities to listen to my daughters as God might listen to me. For the oldest daughter, we made an evaluation of some life practices today, without judgment. We used voices that reflected love, not preaching. For my youngest daughter, it was paying attention long enough to see that I had dampened her spirit by my shortness with her. In that place I was actually looking for forgiveness, and she gave me more than I could ever imagine.

A manufactured Lent is a tedious Lent. With a little bit of grace, I can ignore the Peanut Gallery and attend to the grace of God around me. Then, maybe I can walk out of Lent rather than crawl. That would be a victory worth associating with a resurrection.

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