Offering My Weakness
By: Samantha Cooney
I have a confession to make: I’m not very good at Lent.
Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t always been like this. Two years ago, I decided I was going to wear three outfits for all of Lent, one of them being my school uniform, which everyone thinks is crazy and kind of gross. (I did a lot of laundry, okay?) Against all odds, I stayed dedicated to this for forty whole days, including Sundays, and dang it, I was proud of myself! I’ve never been happier to wear a cute outfit on Easter Sunday.
For some reason, when I got to college, I decided I needed to top the Lents of the past. Instead of giving up something, I made the choice to introduce a hardcore prayer routine that I could stick to for all of Lent. So, last year, I committed to doing ALL of the Liturgy of Hours prayers every single day and it was not quite the glorious spiritual ecstasy I was expecting. Did you guys know that there’s a Liturgy of the Hours prayer that’s said at dawn? I certainly did not until I decided to do this Lenten obligation and was setting alarms for way too early in the morning. I completely gave up after about two weeks and decided I would try harder next year.
This year, I decided I would try and set a more realistic goal. I constructed a very set schedule wherein I would complete a novena, followed by a daily devotional, all while doing weekly reading for a book club that I was a part of every Sunday night. I did not consider that I had just gotten hired for a new job and was still working out finding a good work/school balance. I did not consider that me being a Literature major might make copious daily reading a total chore. I did not consider that all the books I carefully selected for myself were very weighty and shouldn’t be rushed through or read simultaneously. I did not consider that I was having trouble choking out a prayer time every day in Ordinary Time and that might have been a better thing to focus on. As a result, I slowly saw many of my “Totally Achievable Lenten Habits” fall by the wayside.
Sitting down and considering it all this weekend, I became very disappointed in myself. Clearly, for my stage in life, these goals I had were too ambitious and it was silly to go after them all simultaneously. It seemed like, as I did last year, I had bitterly failed and I was tempted to throw in the towel and try again next year.
But God doesn’t ask us to try again next year, or next month, or tomorrow. God asks us to try again today, and He looks for us to come back right now, in this present moment. We shouldn’t be hiding our faces when we think we’ve failed but instead offer him our weakness. If we don’t offer him anything, not even our weaknesses, how can we expect him to truly change us for the better?
At this point in my Lent, I know it’s not practical for me to try and restart all of my original goals. However, though many of the habits slipped, I have still managed to stick with the reading for book club every week, and keeping up my daily prayer time. And I can hide, being sad and embarrassed of that fact, or I can accept the blessings that God is still giving me through my measly offering of reading one chapter of Interior Freedom per week. Though it may not seem to be the most ambitious, it’s still something, and I’m able to more thoughtfully pore over a little material than rush through a lot of heavy reading and rituals.
And regardless of what I am or am not doing, I’ve decided to offer God my weakness this Lent. My sins and failures are why He did what He did to save me, and even though I wish I could give him a lot more, maybe all He wants is where I’m actually at. That’s what His heart truly desires: for us to come to Him as we truly are, and ask Him to help us grow. Maybe that means you’re offering Him an incredibly ambitious life, or something incredibly small. Maybe you are faithful to your sacrifices every day or hardly at all. Do not be ashamed of where you are, but take encouragement in His love and mercy, and His joy in our returning.
Sam Cooney graduated from St. Catherine Academy in Wixom, MI. She writes too much and sleeps too little. She loves her faith and enjoys Broadway, the Office, and being weird. She studying Language, Literature, and Writing at Eastern Michigan University.