This year for Lent, I decided not to get crazy. In the past, especially as a kid, I’d sometimes give up three things at once, candy, my Gameboy, and fun in general. In the absence of those worldly distractions, I’d take up the terribly sanctified tendency of comparing and contrasting my virtue against my brother’s: “Mom, he’s playing Backyard Baseball, again…”

This year, none of that. I wanted to do something low-key. I wanted to spend a little time every morning praying. And not for any reason other than that, even now, that just sounds like a really nice way to start the day. But when I imagined prayer, in this context, I didn’t just mean saying, “Hi God, it’s me. Can you help?” and calling it a day. That seemed like a cop-out. I wanted to do something a little more poetic, something a little more meaningful—something like 10-15 minutes of quiet meditation, capped off with either some journaling or a dark cup of coffee. That’s it. Just talking to God. Or to myself, about God. Either would have been fine. What I ended up doing was neither.

This year, on the first day of Lent, I woke up early. The sun had risen a little bit earlier than it had on the previous day, which is exactly what I had expected, having learned that ‘Lent’ is derived from some old Germanic word meaning ‘the lengthening of the days.’ A soft morning light pressed in through the window. I woke up, prayed, and did exactly what I had resolved to do, and felt great about it.

What happened after that is something of a blur. In the days that followed, I found myself busier than I’d expected. My schedule was in flux. Mornings came and went, with coffee but no prayer. I made one excuse, which turned into two. “I’ll pray later today,” I thought. And when “later today” came and went, I told myself I could miss one day. Grace, right? What’s one day? What’s two days? I stopped counting. I eventually forgot it was Lent. This past week, the time change put the nail in the coffin. Every minute of extra sleep I can get, I’m taking.

That first day of Lent seems so far away now, like from another life. The hope I had felt, that I could finally be the kind of person who takes time out of his day to really connect with the Lord on a regular basis…that hope has all but dissolved and given way to something more akin to a low-simmering anxiety. Yesterday I wondered if I could just restart, get a clean slate. How many more weeks until Easter? Is it too late to try again? The answer is, of course, I can get a clean slate. Of course it’s never too late. But for what?

Often, when I think of Lent, I think, in the same moment, of the highly-anticipated Easter morning. I imagine going to church, the morning sun once again filtering in, this time through stained glass. I like to think of myself walking into the service having survived the desert season, here to party, ready to celebrate the resurrection. I like to think of myself as resurfacing, a new and better me—and on Easter, no less, which is, coincidentally, the time when Jesus, too, resurfaced, a new and better Him. On Easter, Jesus and I would celebrate our accomplishments together. I know of course that all of this misses the point.

You can learn a lot from Lent. You can learn a lot by abstaining from worldly things or committing to spiritual disciplines. For me, though, Lent has always yielded yet another pseudo-humorous reminder of my weakness. If you were to put me in the desert for forty days and the devil appeared and offered me bread, I now know for sure that I would take it. If he offered me my own kingdom…? Yes please.

This is a classic case of me misunderstanding my role in the scheme of things, because the reality is, I’m not going to the desert for forty days. Jesus already did that. He fasted for forty days so I don’t have to. He died the brutal death, which I deserved, so that I don’t have to. I am spared. “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” Lent: add it to the list of things I can’t do but Jesus can.

Obviously, I would still love a quiet morning of meditation and soft, pastel light. But for now, when I flip out of bed and groggily pour myself a cup of muddy joe and say, “Hi God, it’s me. Can you help?”…for now, that isn’t a cop-out. For now, that’s more than enough.