Well, here we are approaching the second Sunday in Lent, and already, I have fallen off the bandwagon of the Lenten practice. It is crazy how quickly something can distract your attention away from those things that you really want to do as a Lenten discipline! I mean, we are ONLY now getting to the second Sunday in Lent! How is it possible that I have already fallen off the proverbial wagon and need to recalibrate things so that daily discipline of prayer doesn’t get interrupted?
The truth is that it really does not matter how frequently you fall off the wagon or how soon it happens in the Lenten season. It doesn’t matter if you find that you need make a few changes to what you are doing for your Lenten practice. What does matter is that you keep trying and keep seeking a deeper relationship with God. What matters is that you keep going.
A few months ago, I was getting rather annoyed with the fact that I could not figure out a safe(er) way to work out. I did not trust going to the gym after being there when one person decided to wear a mask below his nose while on the rowing machine. I definitely did not want to contract COVID-19, and I certainly was not willing to risk getting COVID-19 for a gym workout. That said, regular workouts are one of those things that keep me sane and keep my stress levels at a reasonable level. I had to figure out something else that would allow me to get back to my regular routine of working out throughout the week.
Around the same time, Apple released its at home fitness service, which offers different types of workouts through the iPhone and Apple Watch. I jumped at the opportunity to get fresh workouts delivered to my device when I was able to find a moment to go to the gym at my apartment complex. It has been brilliant, and I have been getting in more workouts than ever before!
Some of my favorite workouts are treadmill workouts. Having been a distance runner, I really enjoy a good long run at a reasonable pace. In a perfect world, I am doing this outside where I am able to enjoy the scenery of nature and soak up a little extra vitamin D; however, I have recently been relying on the treadmills in my apartment complex to help me squeeze in a workout in busier and busier days. In many of the workouts, and especially the ones that have a lot of hills or all out speed intervals, you will hear the trainer say something along the lines of, “I don’t need the same speed….just the same intensity.” The trainer invites you to adjust the speed or the hill to something that makes sense for you and your body on that day in that workout. Right there in the middle of the workout, you are given permission to make adjustments to your workout so you can keep going, so you continue to get the benefit of the workout.
In many ways, I think Lent is like the trainer inviting us to make adjustments to our workout. It is a season that is all about the intentionality (intensity?) of our discipline. If we have a moment in which we have missed a day of our Lenten practice, God is inviting us to get back on the treadmill, to keep going, and to keep trying as we journey deeper into the Lenten season. If we find that what we were trying was not reasonable for the life we are living right now, God invites us to make adjustments AND to keep going. It is not about how long we pray or how many chapters of scripture read or how many programs we are engaged in at church. It IS about the intention we bring to our prayers, to our reading of scripture, to our commitment to one another in community.
Lent is an season in which we have an opportunity to grow new muscles and to grow a deeper relationship with God. It does not matter if we have already fallen off the wagon and need some help getting back on or if we have not yet started a Lenten practice. It’s okay. Make the adjustment you need; climb back on the treadmill and keep going. God is waiting for you.