If you are having trouble with your Lenten resolution, it probably means you did not pick something too easy, and that’s already a good sign.
Of course, it can also reveal a number of other things about you and that too is a good thing, if you think about it, and I mean iffff you really do think about it.
First, it may be frustrating, but it is important not to get discouraged. Remember what Lent is about. We walk this road with Christ who suffers with us. If we did not experience the pinch, we would not be living Lent, now would we? So take advantage of the pitfalls to do three things.
1) Jesus fell three times. Don’t think that didn’t hurt. He also got up three times, and in the end he conquered.
Here is an interesting thing to consider. In John’s Gospel, Jesus carried his cross alone (see John 19:17)– there is no mention of Simon of Cyrene. I think John leaves out what the synoptic Evangelists included to emphasize a very important point: the cross Jesus carried was the one cross only he could carry. It was the full weight of all our sins. In the Stations of the Cross, Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry his cross — again, this is not exactly what the synoptics tell us. The reason for the difference is that we should focus on this: our attention should be more on Christ, than on ourselves. Do not take Jesus out of the picture. Instead, consider the lengths he went to in order to be in that picture, that he suffers for you and along side you. So when you fall carrying your cross God is with you, and together you get up again.
2) That’s right, you’re human. Jesus, true God and true man, was human too.
On the one hand it is okay to get a little frustrated when you stumble with your Lenten resolution, because it shows that it is still important to you. On the other hand, this isn’t about being super awesome and capable of overcoming any obstacle on your own. If you’re upset about your weakness, ask yourself what exactly is it about your weakness that gets you upset. It could be because you realize that you have difficulties or even vices you need to work on and overcome — not bad (if you realize it). It could also be because of your pride, because you are not as awesome as you thought you were going to be… not good.
When you get frustrated for stumbling again and again over the same thing, think of it this way. God allows it in order for you to check your intentions. Ask yourself what you have gained or learned about yourself from the fall. Then take courage, and with the Lord at your side, give it another go.
3) Who is carrying this cross anyway?
Are you carrying your cross or trying to avoid it? Think about this critically. Lent allows us to examine ourselves more deeply by proposing that we make little sacrifices. If it is a surprise that you find the sacrifice difficult, what does that tell you? It could suggest exactly what the season of Lent is meant to remind us: WE NEED GOD! Those falls might just happen as often as they do, because you need to be more united to Christ. Here is your opportunity. When you fall, don’t scourge yourself. Take it to prayer. Bring it before God and ask him, “Does it really upset you that I had a little piece of chocolate?… On second though, what about my behavior does upset you God? What do I really need to improve.”
He might just answer: “It’s okay. I am with you. Now abide in me.” Or he might say, “My child, you need to embrace the cross.” Or maybe he has something else to tell you. How will you know? You must go to him to find out.
Your struggles during Lent are not necessarily a bad thing, at least, not entirely. Probably, they are always a good thing, iffff they cause you to examine yourself and your relationship with God more closely.