When I was in college I attended a religious retreat and the one thing that has always stuck in my head came from a priest after confession. He recommended that every morning I forgo the snooze button, he suggested I rise and shine the first time the alarm sounded. If he could see me now…my husband and I push it to the limit every morning, after hitting snooze at least 3 times I always say, “just one more”. Then we jump out of bed and run like crazy stressing everyone in the house so we can get out the door on time.
As lent approaches I have been thinking a lot about the discipline this priest was trying to instill in me. Oh how I wish I had taken his advice. Not for smoother mornings, but for self-control. Lately, I have been failing miserably. I eat anything and everything in sight, I gossip when I can literally hear God in my ear saying make the right choice and I yell at my kids before searching for patience.
At the time all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it. Hebrews 12:11
I believe this because when I am weak there is little joy. During Lent, I think a lot about self-control. When Jesus was in the desert He endured 40 days and nights with no food. Sure we can say, this is Jesus we are talking about He has supernatural power, but He was in the flesh and felt the same agonizing temptations we do. In the end instead of being too weak to resist, Jesus was actually stronger.
When I allow myself free range in life and do not practice self-control I am weakening my fight against satan. I feel it especially in that last “just one more” to the snooze button. My body shows the extra pounds found in the cake I can’t resist and my children’s tears that flow from my lost temper rips me to shreds. Here’s where I mess up, my inner voice says, “You have a tough life, it’s full of sacrifices due to Katie’s impairments. You endure a lot of stress and the physical strain is plenty. You deserve to sleep a little more, you are tired…you deserve the dessert, you are stressed.” Excuses, Excuses and more excuses. I know I cannot do it alone and it is during Lent that I’m reminded of my only option.
As I was talking to my children about their Lenten sacrifice I decided it would be a good idea to take my own advice. We don’t give up the things we love to cause suffering, we do it to better ourselves. When we detach ourselves from things that take us away from God, we learn He is our only source of happiness. We don’t need the dessert to put a smile on our face, or the ipad game to bring excitement to our day, and we don’t have to be entertained 24/7. As we sacrifice we turn to our Lord for strength and suddenly we realize how easy life can be. Alone we are so very weak.
It’s also important to give of ourselves during Lent and every day. As we take the focus off of our wants and desires God guides us to others in need. Those sacrificed dinners out save money that can be used to provide basic needs for a homeless family. The time saved from turning off the Television can be spent in prayer for others.
I need to turn to Katie more often for guidance in this area of life. She suffers physically every day, she misses out on so much in this world, yet she lives so simply with a beautiful smile on her face. Katie just gets it, she doesn’t need material things because she is full of God. I know I have said this before in past blogs, but I find it ironic that I have prayed so hard for her to be cured, yet now I long to be more like her. So as I lay off the snooze button, the chocolate cake and search for more self-control this Lent, I will pray for my soul to be as pure as hers.