“I was thinking I’d make spaghetti for dinner.”
“I can’t put Parmesan cheese on the spaghetti.”
“No, you can’t.” No response. “So, does that mean we can’t have spaghetti until Lent is over?” Again no response. We’ve had this discussion before.
We’ve only been married for two and a half years. Each Lent, Jack has given up cheese. This is an extreme sacrifice for him to make. He loves cheese. Everything goes better with cheese in his mind. No matter what I cook, he wants me to add cheese. What he has yet to comprehend is that his giving up cheese is also a hardship on me as the limited meals we can both agree on become even more limited when you take cheese out of the mix. Hence, the cheese conundrum. A good thing for him, creates a problem for me.
(Okay, okay, I could give up cheese too, but that’s for another post.)
The great spiritual writer, Gerald May, is reputed to have once fallen into the same mistake. He decided one year that this Lent he would spend more time in prayer. And when was the perfect time to add this hour of prayer? Why right after he got home from work. After several days of arriving home and rushing to his den for prayer time, his wife intruded on his space and hit him on the side of the head with the fish she was preparing for dinner.
He had failed to take into account how his Lenten sacrifice would affect his family. Right after work may have been ideal for him, but it was his wife’s busiest time. He quickly got the message and changed his prayer time to one more suitable for a married man. My husband has yet to learn this, but he’s teachable!
A common Lenten pitfall is to plan your Lenten sacrifices without taking into account how these will affect your loved ones. God put us into our families for a reason. They truly are a means to grow spiritually. They provide us with concrete expressions of love. As we learn how to love each other amid the struggles of daily life, we learn more about God’s love for us.
Lent is a wonderful time of year to grow in our relationship with our God. Traditionally this is done through prayer, fasting and almsgiving. All are good things, but not if done at the expense of our loved ones. Lent has just started. Now is a good time to review your plans for spiritual growth and evaluate whether they are putting an undue hardship on your family.
Has this been your experience? Are there other pitfalls that you have noticed? Throughout Lent, I’ll be blogging about other pitfalls to avoid. I would love to hear from you and add yours to mine.