Now, at the beginning of Lent, I have begun to rework my entire attitude towards sacrifice. I've learned through instruction that the reason we sacrifice during Lent is not simply to deny ourselves as Jesus did in the desert for 40 days, but to empty ourselves in order to make room for Jesus. I have plenty of bad habits, and giving up a specific food or foods would do wonders, but I think that there is something to be said for the sacrifices that we don't prepare for and yet are forced to cope with as best as grace allows. I've learned that lesson this past week.
With my family sick I had to drop my plans, stay home and take care of them as best as possible. The produce I spent extra money on at the grocery store for nice meals before Lent will most go to waste since no one has an appetite. Going to the gym, which has been my sanity these winter months, is out of the question. My regular laundry schedule is backed up with the addition of the unexpected bed sheets and towel changes. Then, when I got sick, the sacrifice continued. My husband had to take the morning off of work after taking off the day before to recover from his own sickness. I had to lay in a hospital bed for five hours in order to replenish my lost fluids, and I had to be wheeled through the hospital in a wheelchair, my own place of employment, and accept the humility that I was too sick to walk all the way to the hospital. These sacrifices were unexpected but have had far more of an impact than giving up chocolate or diet coke.
Now at home recovering, I'm forced to be still, to let things go, and to more attentively listen to my family. Where a few days ago I considered reducing the television Luke watched, I now realize that a day in front of the tv watching Jesus movies is exactly what he needed, and that although a week has passed since the onset of his sickness, a quiet day in his jammies is doing much more good than harm.
With a new baby coming in the midst of Lent I know that our unexpected sacrifices are far from over. We may not be prepared for them, but we can pray to have the grace to handle them as a family striving for holiness.