Lent humbles me, though I have not always taken it seriously. The first time I chose to forego something for Lent, I did it because my best friend in high school was fasting. It was a tradition in her house, and I spent enough time there that it seemed logical to follow suit. I don’t remember exactly what we decided to give up. It was probably chocolate. I do remember how long those forty days began to feel, even just ten or twelve days in.
This year, Lent feels long again but for very different reasons. Most of you who are reading this know that I’m undergoing chemotherapy. Treatments are three weeks apart. It feels like I’ve been doing this for quite a while already, and I’m only half way through this stage of the process. I decided against fasting this Lent because my diet and appetite are already significantly altered. Instead, I thought I might focus on exercising when I can. So much for a serious Lenten discipline, right?
I was so glad to be back in the gym when I returned a few weeks ago. I suspected I had lost some strength, but I wasn’t prepared for how low I needed to go with some of the weights. I was surprised by how quickly I felt short of breath. Completely gassed after about 5 minutes of work, a friend suggested I not worry so much about weights and reps for the next round but instead, focus on my form.
“If you use this time to develop your form, you’ll be better able to handle more weight and repetition down the road,” she said.
It’s a good argument, and a humbling Lenten discipline, as it turns out. In more ways than one, I’ve had to get real about my inability to carry the load I used to carry. I have to admit I need help more often than I’d like. But my friend is right. If I worry less about the weight I’m carrying, and focus instead on carrying it “well,” or at least put some thought into my form, then I’ll likely be in a better position to manage whatever lies ahead. And I will have learned a few things about accepting help from others to balance the load, too.
Lent humbles me. It also reminds me to be grateful for the journey, and all we are invited to learn along the way.
Your friend and fellow traveler along this Lenten road,
Pastor Kathryn Kuhn