As you set your Lenten goals, Elayne Grossmith recommends intentionally planning to grow closer to God.
As a clinical psychologist, I counseled patients on the importance of knowing what they wanted to achieve in each circumstance of their life. Regardless of the issue to be resolved, they had to consider their goal and whether their actions would help them achieve it. If you don't know where you want to end up, how do you know which direction to go?
You consider what you want to achieve every day without even thinking about it in your role as a mom. For example, when your child wants to eat potato chips just before dinner, you say, "Absolutely not." The elaborate computer in your head quickly analyzed the situation and determined that your goal was good nutrition for your child. In lightning speed, you reviewed how the meal you were preparing would lead to your goal and considered whether eating potato chips close to dinner time would hinder that goal. You found your answer quickly.
You considered what you wanted to achieve when you walked down the street with your child and automatically grabbed their hand as you approached an intersection. Once again, you had considered your goal, this time wanting your child to be safe. In a flash, you analyzed the situation and took the steps necessary to achieve it.
You considered your goal in both of these situations before deciding on your action. But the extraordinary, sophisticated human brain worked seamlessly at record speed. Because of your brain's fast processing and other capabilities, you were able to direct your effort toward what you wanted. Once you know your goal and develop a plan, it becomes an automatic process of working toward what you want to achieve.
For example, you more than likely have developed a plan to carry out your goal of a happy, joyous Christmas holiday with family each year. Your master plan likely includes setting up the Advent wreath, buying presents, decorating a Christmas tree, making preparations for the holiday dinner, and attending Christmas Mass.
You want to achieve a happy, joyous Easter and your preparations likely include coloring eggs, buying new Easter outfits, attending Easter Mass, as well as planning the family dinner. So you direct your effort to those activities.
But have you given any thought to what you want to achieve during Lent? What goals do you have? It's easy to treat Lent like it's "just the few weeks before Easter." But, it's much more than that. Lent is a time for us to contemplate the sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus Christ—His life, suffering, death, burial, and Resurrection. It's 40 days of repentance, forgiveness, self-examination, self-denial, and self-sacrifice.
Why not consider setting concrete goals for Lent? Reflect on what you might want to achieve. Give the Lenten season the same attention to your goals and develop well-organized plans like you have for Christmas and Easter.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) offers daily inspiration in a Lent 2022 calendar. On April 12th, toward the end of Lent, the calendar asks you some pointed questions and asks you to look back at what you accomplished during Lent.
As Lent draws to a close, reflect on your Lenten journey. How have you grown closer to God? How have you grown in holiness? Give thanks to God for accompanying you in this season.
Why not turn these questions into your goals for Lent now?
Don't wait to ask yourself what you accomplished after Lent is over. Begin the Lenten period with these goals:
- Grow closer to God;
- Grow in holiness;
- Ask God to accompany you this Lenten season.
A plan for achieving these goals might include the activities of moderation, fasting, abstinence, and prayer. Check out the Lenten Prayer Resources offered by the USCCB.
Setting your goals and developing a plan of prayer and sacrifice will provide you with a much more meaningful Lenten season for 2022 and each year after that. Direct your effort toward God. What more significant goal could you have than one that strengthens your relationship with God and helps you grow in holiness?
Copyright 2022 Elayne Grossmith
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About the Author
Elayne Grossmith is an advocate for creating lasting relationships by "loving with your brain." She holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and completed a two-year fellowship in neuropsychology. She has offered psychological and neuropsychological services through her private practice and has testified as an expert witness for Ford Motor Company. Elayne was certified as a Qualified Medical Evaluator by the State of California.