Breaking Your Lenten Promise (slipping up)

Perhaps I should have waited a week or two for this post since we are only a few days into lent, but I think that once in a while it’s not such a bad thing to break your lenten promise.

We give-up or take-on during lent because we want to show our love for God, sacrifice like Jesus did, and improve our self-discipline.  If, after all we can say no to the little things, then we may be able to have the strength to say no to the bigger temptations. 

At the end of the forty days, what have we learned, what has been transformed, how do we feel?

If I feel proud and smug, if I feel that I really accomplished something on my own, if I feel more self-righteous than others who didn’t do anything for lent then break that lenten promise right now.  If I feel as though I really did God a favor by my sacrifice, then break that lenten promise.  Lent did not teach you anything of God.

I never get upset when someone breaks their lenten promise because there is much wisdom to be gained.  Here are a few of the teachings:

  • I am human, I mess up sometimes.  You sometimes fall as well, let us be compassionate and forgiving of each other.
  • I can do nothing alone.  I rely on God for everything.  There is a beautiful humility in depending on Our Father and surrendering.
  • After I fall, do I get up or do I stay down?  I can try again, I can be forgiven for anything, I can start over.
  • I am loved, for who I am, not for what I do.  I am loved.

Lent is a great teacher if you allow it to be about God and not about ‘me’.  Humility, forgiveness, compassion, surrender…  There is no room in the desert for pride or ego. 

Breaking your lenten promise……maybe it’s not such a bad thing if you allow God to take over.

JT brings us an excellent point in his comment below….Please know that I am speaking more of ‘slipping up’ than an outright ‘break’.  Our lenten sacrifices are of much value, but as with everything else, it must be about God and not about ‘me’.

11 thoughts on “Breaking Your Lenten Promise (slipping up)

  1. Are we talking about breaking your promise, or slipping up occasionally? The biggest mistake we can make with our Lenten promise is to think we will be perfect in carrying it out. Experience tells me we won’t, and it also tells me that the perfection thing is a flirtation with pride. I’m guessing that most of us who make Lenten promises do so in order to allow ourselves to be open to God’s love to help us address a certain weakness we have, to minimize that weakness and grow in the love of God to overcome it. That’s something that sometimes takes years, not just 40 days. We’re going to slip! Just like we do the rest of the year. Remember, also, when you truly make a serious commitment to the Lord, Satan comes after you in spades. A serious Lenten commitment is therefore hard spiritual work. Breaking a commitment, to me, is simply completely giving up on it and blowing it off. There’s a difference between breaking a commitment and slipping up from time to time.

    1. I made a mistake gave ip wine during the week but it was a bad thing to give up because im addicted i feel terrible for failing but i learned not to give anything up if its addicting

  2. I like the idea that Lent is a great teacher. It puts a little different perspective on the idea of it, offering us a new wisdom, or perspective, at its conclusion.

    1. Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I am thankful to be living in the United States and grateful for the generations of our men and women in uniform who have and continue to stand guard for us 24/7 around the world. You know the old saying, If you can read, thank a teacher. If you are reading in English, thank a soldier. So, thanks, Cindy and thanks to the troops.

  3. One of my physical givings up has been coffee – I have had three cups- one – a fellow worker made for me in a break during a hectic week, one my mum made by accident – she has more important things to think about, one my friend made because – that is one of the few things he knows I like. In a way what the accepting did was make me appreciate those relationships more fully? Was it better to graciously accept or like the pharisees make a fuss. I hope it was better to accept – I believe in a God of mercy and if he can’t let me off with the small stuff I have no chance with the bigger.

  4. What if what you gave up for Lent was…something you shouldn’t have been doing in the first place? You know, a sin.

    I totally get that pride thing, because to be honest, when Lent is over, I’m looking forward to being like, “Yeah. *I* was able to hold out for 40 days and 40 nights. What did YOU do?”

    That’s not cool.

    And what about the fact that I pretty much plan to continue these acts once Lent is over? I mean, how good is my promise if I’m already waiting on the Monday after Easter to…commit the sinful act?

    You can say, oh it’s for the discipline, but as aforementioned, it’s really more or less pride.

    Do I want to give up this particular sin? Well, the main reason I do it in the first place is to keep me from doing OTHER stuff. I already know what you’re going to say; it’s a BS excuse. But it is what it is.

    This is why I have a hard time really understanding the TRUE meaning in the part we play during Lent. I talk to lay persons, and I keep getting, “It’s a sin, period. DON’T DO IT!”. When I talk to my priest, he tells me not to be hard on myself, I’m a young person growing in my faith.

    Well, what the heck?!

  5. Thanks for stopping by…let’s see if I can respond to some of your comments. First, most of us do give up ‘sins’ or things that separate us from God, because that is what sin is, a separation from God. It is hard and it is a discipline and most of us fall back to our old habits after lent is over. But, as you say, it is a discipline. At the end of lent you can say, “I had control over this” or “This has control over me”. We will never stop sinning, that’s our nature, and God knows that and is always ready and willing to forgive us. Lent is a time to go deep inside and take a look. Maybe something needs to be changed, a habit stopped, etc. and maybe we can do it, if even for a day. Don’t be too hard on yourself, I agree with the priest and you should be proud that you accomplished something for lent, just make sure that you did it with the right motive, not to think that you are better than anyone else. That is where the danger of the ego creeps in. Lent is just a good time to take a step back and do some self-examination. It isn’t meant to stop you from sinning….Just try your best and remember to keep God in the mix. Check your motives and you’ll be fine. The questions are wonderful…keep asking them.

  6. Agreed.

    It is so easy to be a Pharisee, especially when you are doing well in your Lenten promises.
    My guess that, given your Lenten promises this year, it must be difficult to never slip up.
    I have noticed that, as I’m doing well with my Lenten promises so far, that I have turned a little self righteous at times. I’m ashamed to confess this, but your post brought it to conscience!


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