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Not What I Had in Mind

The grandiose plans I make for MY Lent usually start off as the perfect plan for holy success… so I say. Not long after the liturgical season of purple and fish and no cookies begins, I realize that God’s grand plan for me to detach, give, and pray is very different from my own.

One of my favorite priests advised me years ago that one of the best ways to live out Lent is to accept the things the Lord asks of us with obedience and joy. Adding our own fasts and sacrifices are definitely means of spiritual growth, but seldom do we know how to achieve holiness within the confines of our own plan.

He always knows the best way that we can receive grace and grow closer to Him.

I had my spiritual books lined up, my alarms set, my cookies hidden away, and I was ready to go. Little did I know that Our Lord would give me the gift this Lent to walk alongside my friend and her five children as they loved, cared for, and said goodbye to their husband and father after his battle with brain cancer.

I cannot express in words the ache my spirit experienced seeing them suffer.  Nor can I communicate the joy my soul experienced at the same time in being the tiniest consolation to them here and there.  They weren’t the huge heroic feats I had planned for myself.  But, I saw so clearly God’s plan for my time and my Lent through an offering of a visit, a meal, a cappuccino or a hug.  I was also witness to and moved so deeply by the outpouring of love upon them by our local Catholic community.

All of these wrapped together will certainly be remembered as one of the biggest graces and gifts I have ever been given.

I imagine as we continue on this journey with them many more lights will be received.  But, fresh on my heart is the realization that during this time my heart began seeking out its own imperfections.  I sincerely asked myself and tried to answer, “Am I ready to die? Is my soul in a state in which it could meet my Lord?”

I was inspired to pray for an illumination of conscience that I know I need.

The second movement of my heart was towards my husband. God poured out a grace of gratitude and appreciation upon me for him. I have reflected more now than ever before on all the ways I have not been attentive, all the ways I could love him more, and all the ways I need to ask for forgiveness and, in turn, say thank you for so many things.

The grace filled, heartbreaking and beautiful fruit of suffering allowed my heart to grow bigger and began a restoration in my soul.

Lord, remind me every day to be obedient to the Holy Spirit’s invitations to love better and bigger. Just as Lent should, I witnessed in a tangible way that “we are dust and to dust we shall return.” I pray your Lent pulled you closer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus whether it went as you had planned it or not.

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Jason and for peace, hope, and consolation for his wife and their five children.

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Kristi Bentley

Kristi is a wife and homeschooling mom of 5 (3 boys, 2 girls) who loves to read to her kids, dance in the kitchen, craves silence and enjoys all the books about mystics & the interior life, and has an addiction to Tate’s gluten free chocolate chip cookies.

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