We're a couple weeks into Lent, and it's very Lent-y over here. I think it's funny/ironic/rough/perfect that once Lent hits, every single year, there are always things that happen that make me go, Yes, it's Lent.
In fact, I in the past couple years I've started giving myself a fairly low bar when it comes to a Lenten plan, because I know that God always throws extra excitement my way--and I want to focus on how I can grow closer to Him, not on how miserable I can make myself. For me, this change in mentality has been extremely beneficial.
Lent has been really peaceful so far, and even in the rough moments, it's been such a blessed and grace-filled experience.
It all started as I lay on the floor at 1:30 a.m. on Ash Wednesday, hearing my baby scream on and on. Nothing says "Welcome to Lent!" like a sleep regression, I thought. Yes, the infamous 9-month sleep regression decided to coincide with the start of Lent. And in the fog of those early morning hours, I finally just lay on the floor, outside the bedroom, trying to get some sleep. Which, naturally, didn't really happen. At some point, I crawled back into the bedroom and got a little bit of sleep. While this was a rough way to begin Lent, it was also really perfect, because I kept thinking about Christ and the exhaustion that He experienced during the Passion.
I had planned to only drink water on Ash Wednesday, as a special sacrifice since I can't fast while breastfeeding. BUT, I found myself pulling out some black tea, because I needed some caffeinated assistance to make it through the day. Thankfully, the sleep regression ended just a couple days later, but it really set a nice tone for Lent while it lasted.
The first Saturday of Lent, my husband and I decided to go to Confession. We went, and afterwards-filled up with awesome graces and joy from having clean souls-we decided to head to Wal-Mart together so we could get an oil change for our car (previously, we had planned for my husband to go by himself, but I thought, hey, it will save us time and a trip if we all just go right now!). Excitedly, we thought about what we'd do while the car was in the auto area-my husband was thinking that he could look in the electronics section, and I was dreaming about the fun "Confession treat" that I would find in the food section of the store. WELL, we pulled up to the auto area and waited for an employee to take our information and car keys. And waited. And waited. No one outside made a move to even acknowledge us, and when I went inside, I saw there was a huge line of people so I couldn't even talk to an employee in there. Of course, this would happen right after Confession during Lent, I thought.
Finally, we left, found an auto place that did the job within 20-30 minutes, and were able to go home. But not before the wind blew up my skirt completely while I was holding our baby and walking across the parking lot, so I probably scandalized all drivers in the near vicinity. This is Lent, I thought, as I frantically tried to pull my skirt down while not dropping my son and calling over to my husband for assistance.
Yesterday, I hopped in the car with my son so that we could drive up to Kansas to spend a few days with my family--my husband is out of town on a work trip, and I figured it'd be nice to get help in the middle of my solo-parenting adventure. Of course, the last hour and a half, my baby-who normally does really well on road trips-alternated between screaming and whimpering. At one point, I pulled into the parking lot of a casino (this is Oklahoma, after all) so I could nurse him, and he grew happy. But, as soon as he went into the car seat, he began raging.
And, OF COURSE, we would get stuck behind two semis on the highway that were going 15 miles per hour below the speed limit. OF COURSE I would have a rumbling tummy and growing headache as my son screamed and as I promised him (or rather, myself) that as soon as we reached Wichita, we would stop at the first Quick Trip we saw so that I could change his diaper and treat myself to a frozen cappuccino. OF COURSE this all happened...because this is Lent, after all. And as my baby raged and my headache grew, I thought about the beautiful grace that God offers to us in the present moment. Because even though it was rough and challenging, I was experiencing this odd, wonderful peace. Yes, I sighed and shook my head at the semis as a long line of cars formed behind them. But I really wasn't mad about it. It's hard to describe, but this awesome peace just filled me, and I found myself grinning as we slowly chugged along down the highway-especially when one of the semis decided to speed up and the line of cars was able to break free and zoom down the road.
There have been challenges, and there will continue to be challenges, but that's how we grow in holiness-so I'm pretty excited about it. And while curveballs are thrown my way, I have an amazing God who dumps down bucket loads of grace and the gift of Himself in the Eucharist. I have an amazing husband who has been showing me with love and prayers (and has been mailing me fun surprises while he's away on this business trip!). I have a wonderful baby boy who is such a joy to love and take care of (and who slept the whole night through without nursing a couple of nights ago-he went 9 hours without nursing, which is his longest stretch yet!). And I have a fabulous family, who is currently babysitting my baby so that I can sit in a lovely coffee shop and take a moment to myself to write.
And, there's an awesome wall of icons staring at me as I write (why did west-side Wichita not get an awesome specialty coffee shop until after I moved away? At least I can visit when I'm in town!)
This is Lent, and I am loving it.