Happiness and Resolution: Lent as a Reset Button
Have you had anyone wish you a “Happy Lent?” It seems odd, because Lent is not commonly viewed as a happy time. It is that liturgical season during which we Catholics fast, abstain from meat, give up some unnecessary luxury such as eating chocolate, and are told that we should rend our hearts, not our garments. These are all good things, but they are not really what we would call “happy.” In order to see Lent as something to be happy about, we have to think about it in another context. I like to think of it in the context of a reset button.
How can Lent become a spiritual reset button? Well, instead of merely abstaining from chocolate and meat and saying a few extra prayers, I decided to use Lent as a time to reevaluate my spiritual life. I seriously reflected on the state of my soul and what my biggest struggles and temptations are and formed my Lenten resolutions around them. Lent is my time to “reset” my soul so that I can continue on my journey to Heaven feeling refreshed and renewed.
That is why it now makes sense to me when people say “Happy Lent.” Lent really is something to be happy about because it is a time in the liturgical year specifically designed for us to refresh our souls and become better people! Whenever it is almost time for Lent to begin, I get excited and even impatient to implement whatever plan I have come up with to grow in virtue and conquer my vices.
Of course, we shouldn’t work on improving ourselves only during Lent, but we are human and prone to error, so chances are that every year we will have something which we need to pay special attention to, and Lent is the perfect time to focus on that thing, whatever it may be. You may have a temptation that you are struggling to overcome, an addiction or bad habit that you need to break, or maybe there is a particular virtue that you are rather weak in.
Whatever your main problem is, you need to identify it. Next, make a plan to solve your problem over the course of the Lenten season. This a good thing to do a couple of weeks before Lent because it helps you to get in the Lenten spirit and really understand the “Happy Lent” thing! Ash Wednesday eventually arrives, and your 40-day reset button has begun.
How do you form an effective plan to “reset” yourself? We’ll use my Lenten resolutions for this year as an example. I reflected upon myself and found that I am struggling with showing God that I trust Him and that He is important to me – and with stress eating! At times I felt like I was a slave to food. Of course, these are not my only sins, and as Lent goes on, I am discovering even more faults that I need to fix. But these are two big things that I am struggling with and which I think are the root cause of some of my other problems, so I chose to focus on them.
So, I needed to form Lenten resolutions that would help me to completely overcome stress eating and weakness of faith for the rest of my life. I resolved to abstain from all desserts and snacks. If I do not want to go hungry, I have to plan healthy, balanced meals because I can’t have a random (often large) snack every hour or so. I also decided that I am going to go to Eucharistic Adoration every day of Lent to tell God in person that I love and trust Him and beg for His guidance and mercy. Setting aside time to be with God every day helps me to be at peace, because I no longer feel like I am neglecting the One Who I should be paying the most attention to. Lent is my time to break my habits of eating and neglecting my duties to God and forming new ones of eating good meals and giving God special attention every day.
Everyone is different. No one is going to have the same struggles, or the same solutions to their struggles, as I do. But we are all similar in that we all have problems which we recognize, and which can, therefore, be fixed. Lent is the perfect time to fix them. It is the time to “reset” ourselves so we can get back on the path to Heaven. It is possible to have a happy Lent – and an even happier post-Lent, when we can enter the Easter season feeling accomplished and like we have really tried to better ourselves.
By Frodo Baggins