“In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.” Hebrews 12:4
I think about this scripture verse frequently during the holy season of Lent. It reminds me of how weak I am when it comes to fasting. For example I do not give up all treats, just my most favorite ones = candy, cookies, and chips. Well soon enough I am replacing these with nuts, sweetened cereal, and popcorn.
Over 15 years ago I went on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje and started the recommended bread and water fasts on Wednesdays and Fridays. The “better” I was in doing the fast the “meaner” I became to my family. During that time I had small children at home, and I was quite the opposite example of a Christian mother on those two days. My hunger had me out of humor and patience. Instead of retreating to prayer begging for emotional strength, I escaped to my bed to sleep away the hours so the fast’s end would come sooner. I was trying to fast all on my own power.
It was God’s saving grace that led me to the spirituality of the Communion of Life with Christ through Mary. One of the truths I learned is that I cannot fast on my own. It is only God’s grace that sustains my fasting during Lent. When I forget this truth, is when I fall into temptation of thinking I am greater than God. I also have learned that failing at fasting is “ok”. It shows me who I am not, and who God is. It brings to light the words of Jesus who said: “...without me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5). My pride doesn’t always like this truth, but that is from years of believing that some day on my own I will be perfect in the spiritual life.
With this spirituality and being in Blessed Mom’s arms I am releasing this illusion of perfection. What I must not forget is that even though I am a small “nothing” compared to God, He still wants me to rely on His grace and to desire to follow His will. He also asks me through the Church to try to offer the sacrifices and fasting during Lent, but doing so knowing that He loves me - even when I fail.
Our powerlessness and sense of total dependence on our Creator in all areas of our lives should become a norm for us – when we are completely permeated by the words of Jesus who said: “without me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5). Nothing – this means not even the smallest thing. S.C. Biela, God Alone Suffices, 3rd. ed. (Ft.Collins, CO: IAMF, 2011), 62-63.