wordpress stats plugin

So Much for Lent ~ Life:Unmasked

I could make all sorts of excuses.
…The church we attend doesn’t observe Lent (or any of the liturgical calendar, for that matter). 
…I kept forgetting to take my anti-depressant and vitamins, which left me exhausted most of the last few months.
…The time I had set aside for reading and prayer ended up being needed for sleep or to discuss pressing issues with my husband.

These aren’t made-up excuses, they were very real challenges which I failed to overcome. I never got past the second section of the book I chose to read for Lent this year. I never read the crucifixion accounts. The Book of Common Prayer remained unopened on my dining table, the prayers un-prayed, the readings unread. I arrived at Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday caught up in the stresses of life, grieving the pain and angry at the failures and sins and brokenness, instead of quieted and overcome by the good news of Easter.

I failed at Lent.

Life keeps going, and we keep falling short, failing, reaching the limits of our selves and our self-discipline.

I wonder if that’s the point. We have limits. We are unable to do what we set out to do without help. That’s why we need Jesus, a God incarnate.


Life: unmasked buttonOn Wednesdays, I host a link-up for anyone willing to step away from the pretense that all is well, take off their mask, and write naked. We have tremendous capacity to encourage one another in our weaknesses by sharing our lives from the trenches, acknowledging how hard it can be, and telling each other, “You’re not alone, I’ve been there (or I’m there now), and together we can get through it.”

If you’ve written anything unmasked, link up below! Please link back to this post so your readers can find others willing to bare it all, and then make sure to visit at least two others and leave them encouraging comments.


Sign up to receive new posts in your email.

I generally post 1-2 times per week. You will only receive an email from me if I have posted something new. I hate spam and promise never to send it to you.


  1. I gave up on Lent, or perhaps, like you, life didn’t stop harassing, screaming for attention. But I’m sure the lessons we learn through failure are more spiritually healing than those learned through success.

    • I wish I weren’t the case, but sadly, I think you’re right. I hate learning through failure though!

  2. “Life keeps going, and we keep falling short, failing, reaching the limits of our selves and our self-discipline.” Yes, I believe that is the point. And realizing it brings tremendous freedom! That’s the whole point of the Law of God to show us how desperately we need Him, a Savior, and to see how good His plan is, even when we are not!!

  3. I love what Sarah said.

    I’ve never observed/practiced Lenten sacrifices, etc. Being a Presbyterian, it’s not a thing I’ve seen done in my life until recently, really. But I do understand your feeling of failure (Oh, it’s an every day/every minute thing for me!), and wish for you, as I do for me and everyone else, the peace of clinging to His sacrifice and promise, and for us to let Him do his work in us, rather than us struggling on and on to do it in ourselves.

    Love love love!

    • Lately I’ve been thinking that all my efforts at self-improvement are like trying to steer a kite, when I really need to learn to let the Holy Spirit work in me and carry me like the wind carries a kite. If that makes any sense. Maybe the effort we are to put forth is an effort to let go of the illusion of control and follow the Spirit’s leading instead of going off on our own.

  4. It sounds like through your failure, you learned the whole point of the Lent anyway. ; )

  5. Hmmm…how many of us really end up doing what we hope to do? With our media saturated culture, with life staying the same it is (children, jobs, responsibilities) I realized I dove back in full force to those addictions I had hoped to get a better hold off (like time spent on-line)

    • I think you’re right. It’s really unusual for a person to accomplish what they set out to do. The ones who do are the ones we all admire.

  6. yeah. we need jesus. appreciate your honesty here. i was supposed to write more. like everyday. notice the “supposed.”

  7. I feel like I failed at Lent too. So grateful to serve a God who appreciates the fact that I’m dragging my banged-up self across the finish line, not trotting across like a chipper marathon runner.

    I love your life: unmasked series and finally decided to link up. I’m tired of being around “perfect” kids. My kids and I get dirty and we like it.

  8. I don’t observe lent, but I can find just enough to feel guilty about in daily life. I went on a church retreat this past weekend in Alsace. It was for all the french speaking churches in the area – Brussels, Lyon, Paris and Geneva. And one thing that one of the women preached about that struck me is when Jesus spoke to Martha (You are upset and worried about many things, but only one thing matters. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken from her) we women can sometimes feel like he is being harsh. It’s hard not to want to run around and prepare for a guest as important as Jesus. But what he was actually saying to her is – I have something better in store for you.

    When we feel guilty and mess up and run around without really feeling connected, it helps (me) to remember that Jesus has something better in store than simply accomplishing something.

  9. Oh, Joy, you didn’t fail at Lent. This year it may have been different. The annual books/prayers were left undone. But, remember, God doesn’t want you just add-libbing. He wants you now ~ in the mess called life right now. He heard your daily prayers just trying to make it. He knows your belief everytime that you call on Him. Easter is about knowing that we serve a risen Savior that did not die on that cross. Everytime your prayers went out ~ you were showing your Faith. ((Hugs)) Jen

  10. Joy,

    This part really hit me:

    “I wonder if that’s the point. We have limits. We are unable to do what we set out to do without help. That’s why we need Jesus, a God incarnate.”

    I, too, feel like I failed at lent. But I’m realizing and learning that it’s never about what we do, but what has already been done. Yes, we failed at setting apart a time for Christ. Yes, we failed at discipline, perhaps. However, He is bigger than our failures, and in these failures, He makes Himself strong.

    Sending love.

  11. You can’t fail at Lent! It’s not an ending point, just part of a bigger conversation.


  1. […] other writers with similar vulnerability in their writing here. Ghost WriterWashed Away This entry was posted in Humility and tagged Galatians 5, Luke 6. […]

  2. […] Check out other Life:Unmasked posts this week. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Written by connienoelle Posted in identity & womanhood, singleness & love Tagged with control, future, love, singleness, waiting […]