My family failed Lent this year. Or did we? We had decided to participate in 40 Acts of Generosity for the second year in a row—40 days of giving back, doing good, and living generously (www.40acts.org.uk).
I was so proud of my family last year. My seven year-old helped his classmates with math, reading, and other class work (whether they needed it or not). My five year-old created little pieces of art for everyone she met (yes, even strangers). My husband drove with more consideration of others and treated the hockey team he coaches with special interest. I remember taping loonies to vending machines, buying flowers to pass out, and smiling until my cheeks hurt. We would gather around the dinner table and ask what acts of kindness we preformed that day. There were only a few days were one of us forgot.
That was not the tale this year. I think we lasted a week. Intentionally performing small acts of kindness for another was certainly not our focus. There were a few times during lent that I visited the 40 Acts website to check in to see how others were living out the theme, which was table fellowship. Table fellowship meant friendship, peace, acceptance, and unconditional love—community.
Every time I visited the site I came away feeling surprised about my family. Many of the acts being intentionally performed had already been integrated into our daily living. Last year’s Lent practices had a lasting effect on our family; an awareness of faith in actions, not just in words. Maybe we were eating with Jesus and the people in our community. Could our table be full? Not close, but we are working on it.
Without our church family, I am quite sure we would have passed Lent like any other month, week, and day. I am grateful for the programs they ran and the services they held. They helped to remind us that Lent is not about giving something up or even acting generously (a different type of sacrifice). It is about turning our focus back to God. As we think about God becoming human, living amongst us, only to be sacrificed for our sins, it is appropriate to renew our commitment. The veil has torn.
My daughter often says, “God is in our hearts.” When we fully admit and commit to that, our hearts and desires can be only to live the life God wants us to. My family failed Lent this year. Or did we?