|picture courtesy of Lifeteen|
2. Lent is NOT a competition. We shouldn't be comparing our sacrifices to others', noting how much better OUR Lenten practice is than theirs, or worrying that we're not quite measuring up to someone else. In fact, we shouldn't be thinking about others' practices at all: ...take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing...Mt. 6:1-3
3. Lent is NOT about doing many things poorly, but doing one thing well. Often times, we will start Lent with a list of good intentions: "Okay, no beer, and I'm going to read Scripture every morning. I'm not going to eat any sweets, and I'm also going to get to Adoration every week. I'm gonna save all my pocket change for the poor, and..." Typically, we end up looking at our efforts about 2 weeks in, get disgusted with ourselves, and throw in the towel. Choosing one thing and doing it well, with prayerful intent, is much better than trying to do fourteen things, and not completing any of them.
4. Lent is NOT about showing off to God. This ties in with #3. He wants our love, our devotion, our effort, not a Herculean showing of sacrificial showcasing. What is it that God is calling you to? Is He calling you to prayer? To Scripture? Is He calling you to more family-time? Pray about it. Listen in the stillness of your heart to God's voice. He will let you know what He wants for you this Lent.
Lent is not about making ourselves miserable, proving to God how much we love him, or walking around in sackcloth and ashes. It's about re-orienting our lives towards the most important goal: Heaven.