It’s been a week since Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lenten observances for many. Many people make small sacrifices and aim to give more of themselves during the season leading up to Easter, and on Ash Wednesday everything seems possible. A week later, however, is a different story.
A week is often thought of as a short period of time, but it is also an incredibly long one. A week can be long enough to test our resolve and kill our motivation. A week can be deadly for forming new habits or dropping old ones. Not even being able to last a week can weaken our ability to pick up and start again. It stands there as a testament to failure, and we shame ourselves because of our weakness. “If I can’t even last a week,” we tell ourselves, “how can I possibly make it forty days?” A week can break us if we let it, a week is a dangerous thing.
But, the dawn of a new week is the dawn of a new opportunity. We can simply begin again and reconvert ourselves anew. Because, it’s not about having a “perfect Lent” or doing things the “right way” for forty days, it’s about preparing ourselves alongside other Christians for closer communion with God. It is good to have goals and strive to meet them. It is good to struggle with things and persevere in adversity. It is good to be challenged. All of those things can help us grow, and there is holiness therein.
What is not good, however, is when a person shies away from something they wish to do but fear will be too hard. What is not good is when a person feels like they have failed out of the gate and gives up, ceasing the pursuit of holiness because of personal shame over their failure. All-or-nothing can easily leave us empty.
But no matter where we are, if we have had a flawless opening week to Lent, or if we have forgotten what it was we even gave up for Lent, we can continue to convert. We can continue to redirect ourselves to God and start over every morning, every afternoon, and every evening. Every moment can be the moment of conversion where we look to God and begin again.