Perhaps I Have Grown this Lent

Perhaps it’s because Lent is nearly over and the joyous season of Easter is on the horizon.  Perhaps it’s because my Lenten sacrifice seemed easier than I had expected, and unfortunately didn’t automatically make me a better person.  Perhaps it’s because I hurt my knee and squashed any chance of entering the two races I planned to run this spring.  No matter the root of my increased self-awareness, the result is that I have spent a great deal of time and energy this week contemplating my new goals for the spring, the fall, the future.

I gave up sugar in my coffee for Lent.  I like my coffee with half-and-half (not plain milk) plus 1½ teaspoons of sugar.  To me, no sugar meant genuine sacrifice.  My immediate family knows I’ve given up sugar, but I made a concerted effort not to blab about it to everyone I know—the whole “don’t let the right hand know what the left hand is doing” philosophy.  My hope was that this little sacrifice would have more impact if I didn’t tell everyone.  The unsweetened coffee would be a daily reminder to offer my day for Christ and to love others more genuinely—in essence, to be sweeter.  However, I still yelled at the children instead of calmly disciplining them.  I still grumbled when other drivers on the road offended me.  I still complained about people who failed to meet my expectations.  This week has reminded me that my expectations for others are inconsequential and that my personal goals must be rooted in Christ.

Running and sweetened coffee are my two indulgences.  I love to run.  I am not fast and will never win any races, but the time out in nature feels so good to me.  Also, my husband and daughter are both runners, so it’s an activity we discuss and revel in together.  Recently, I ran my first five-miler and I was stoked!  I just knew I could do the 10K race I was training to run a few weeks later.  However, my enthusiasm got me in trouble.  I tried to do too much too soon, and the five-miler was my last real run.  Now I’m trying to rehab a knee injury.  My aching knee reminds me that I can do nothing on my own, but “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Yesterday, I went to confession in preparation for Holy Week and Easter.  The Franciscan Friar, acting In Persona Christi, reminded me that Jesus is my best friend.  Jesus spoke to me directly through the priest.  He said that I must go to Him with all of the good and all of the bad.  As a best friend, I realize, this week especially, I must walk with Him on the road to Calvary.

As I sit on the couch, elevating and icing my knee while sipping unsweetened coffee, I ponder my Lenten journey.  The Passion, like my coffee, is bitter.  My body, like our Lord’s, is broken.  In my very tiny sufferings, I must strive not to wallow and complain, but to triumph.  I may not run races this spring, but I must still endeavor to love those around me more deeply.  When I look at Jesus’ outstretched arms on the Cross, I realize how He wants me to love others — like they are He, my best friend.

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  • pfmacarthur

    Wonderful article!

  • johnandchandi

    Refreshing and easy to relate to! I could so understand as I have so loved running for the last few years and it has been the best time with God (sounds strange to most people) as well as a source of strength and sanity while raising 5 kids. I have also had knee problems and slowly starting to run again with knee bands and special cream so I had to smile thinking of you with your elevated iced knee – it makes it less frustrating when you know there is someone else out there going through the same thing. Also, my husband sent me your article as I missed my reading time this morning. He sent it to me because he and my 2 oldest daughters run races often and it has turned into a family event.
    I lead a small prayer group at our church and have talked this Lent about remembering Jesus’ suffering when we experience suffering, but I think you put it in a way that we can all relate to. I sent all the members in our group the article and know they will love it also.
    Thanks for making my day!
    Have a blessed Holy Week,
    Chandi Owen
    PS. I have my coffee with flavored creamer… I was too big of a whimp to give up the creamer 🙂

  • kford

    Dear Chandi,

    Thank you so much for your encouraging note and for sharing my article with your group. I have four children, so I can totally relate to the strength and sanity you gain through quiet time with the Lord during a run. Running is such a great sport–the atmosphere at races is so exciting because of the encouragement runners give to one another. I was especially impressed when my husband ran his first marathon last fall. I was waiting at the finish line, and my eyes filled with tears as I watched a couple finishers go back to encourage their friends who hadn’t finished the race yet. As brothers and sisters on an earthly journey (race), I think we all have opportunities to be the finisher and encourage others–and to be the friend in need of help. Both roles help us grow toward our destination and goal of heaven.