Have You Broken Your Lenten Discipline?

Have you broken your Lenten discipline? I have. I intended to exercise every day and do morning and evening prayer. I know, I know — too much to take on. I’ve always found prayer in the evening difficult. And my exercise habit has become less of a habit in recent months. I stop and start and stop and start.

But I’m trying not to take it too seriously, given that self-compassion is a bigger spiritual discipline I have been involved with over the last year or more. I’m reading Anthony DeMello’s Awareness as part of my morning devotion time, and I’m seeing if I can be more, well, aware. I notice evening prayer is hard, but I can pray in the morning. I notice that some days I decide, it’s raining in Portland (again!) and I’m simply not going to go out for a brisk walk. And some days I go no matter what the weather happens to be.

A few years ago I took one of those online assessments. The result: it said I was a perfectionist. I was talking about it in the car with my teenage kids one day, and I said, “I’m not a perfectionist!”

“Of course, you’re a perfectionist!” they chorused.

“I thought I just had high standards.” This was a moment of truth, coming face to face with myself as seen through the eyes of others.

What I’m working on now is to imagine myself seen through God’s eyes, the eyes of absolute and infinite love. This imagining is always partial, of course. But I’m convinced that God is much more accepting of me than I am of myself. The real spiritual discipline is not daily prayer or daily exercise, but daily softening. That’s a good practice for Lent and every season of the year.

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