More than that. It’s good to fail during Lent.
I’ve often commented that Lent is treated like a second swing at a New Year’s resolution we’ve no doubt failed to accomplish. The sort of sense of personal failure which sends us back to the cupboard to eat all the cookies.
Then out to the store. Because the plan is to eat all the cookies. You don’t stop with only what you have.
Failing at resolutions, or as we call it in Lent, fasting is as certain as that goal of losing 20 pounds or giving up chocolate for good. But here’s the thing we rarely recognize.
It’s good to fail.
Well, what happens when you fall down? When you trip up and find yourself sprawled out on the pavement?
Do you decide the rocks look really cool from this angle and thank God I brought provisions, only to turn this setback into a semi-permanent residence?
We get up, of course!
We stand, dust ourselves off, and move on. We keep going.
We’ve got places to go.
Failure is essential to Lent
Not just a little bit. A lot. We need to know our limitations. And we need to pick ourselves up. This concept is really in right now. They call it resilience or grit. It’s not avoiding the fall, so much as dealing with what happens when we do.
And really, I have this sense that if we haven’t failed at the fast at least once during the 40 days, we haven’t made it hard enough. We made it too easy on ourselves.
But even more than that, failure is an essential part of the season.
Lent isn’t a marathon, it’s the training before it.
It’s the pounding the pavement when you don’t want to.
Getting up before the sun, the kids, even the pets to go run.
Working Couch to 5K and suffering through shin splints and chafing.
Lent isn’t the glamorous race with the crowd cheering at the finish line. It’s the unglamorous training that prepares you for the race.
As much as we love Easter and it’s gorging on chocolate, finding eggs, and brunch with Mom, it’s not about the day. It’s not the relief at the end of the tunnel, but the sudden freedom found there. The light of the sun and the expanse of the world after captivity turned the world gray and lifeless.
It’s playing your RPG through to what you thought was the end, only to discover you’ve only been playing in a corner of the whole world.
Easter isn’t the end, it’s the beginning.
The beginning of life after the resurrection. When we get 50 days of celebrating before the even bigger reveal: Pentecost. It’s the gamechange which reveals that God has even more up that divine sleeve than we bargained for.
That’s what’s in store for us. A big, wide-open world for us.
A world far less prescribed, far less easy to navigate. One chock-full of temptation and expectations thrust upon us.
Thank God we’re training for it. Following Jesus to Jerusalem. Stumbling and getting help with our cross from a generous stranger, perhaps.
But unlike Jesus, we aren’t alone. Not in this. We don’t just know the destination, we know that millions of us are heading there at the same time from every corner of the globe.
So fail away. Keep testing your resolve. We’ve got some real work ahead of us.