Speaking of good and bad excuses (mine is definitely the latter), the real message of Lent is that we don’t need to waste our time on them. It doesn’t matter who is to blame, or why something happened in our lives, but only the recognition that we are in a fix and may need to do something about it. We are already forgiven so no need to worry our minds about coming up with common sense reasons how it all happened. Preemptive forgiveness gives us amazing freedom to evaluate our situation, and make a course correction if necessary (the real definition of repentance by the way). We don’t have to waste our energy fighting against the power of shame or disgrace by scouring around for excuses or blame.
No one ever told me that when I was younger, so many of us would spend a lot of time fretting over the why’s and how’s of our troubling circumstances. We would stay awake at night wondering if our mistakes were big enough to awaken God out of his compassionate slumber and visit us with a bit of brimstone. The real meaning of Lent tells us that we are free to focus on the “what” of our lives instead. When shame is no longer attached to the reality of our weaknesses, we can spend all our time thinking about how to make great changes. We can also remember that God's compassion as anything but sleepy.