As I talked about in a Monday Musings post from a few weeks ago, it’s okay to come to the Lenten fast a little late (or at least St. John Chrysostom says so and if he says so that’s just fine by me). Ever since I wrote that post, I’ve been looking and praying for the right thing to give up for the duration of Lent, something that I use to replace God in my life. Facebook? Well yeah, but that would make work difficult since the Newman Center does a fair amount of social networking. TV? Don’t really watch too much of it. Chocolate? Oh my.
I’m going to go ahead and blame it all on my best friend, Kasey. See, Kasey’s awesome. Kasey’s the type of friend who lets you sit on her apartment floor crying after you get unceremoniously dumped three days before your birthday. She’s also the kind of friend who calms your tears with a sympathetic ear and a bucket full of chocolatey goodness that she keeps hidden for just such an occasion (seriously, even her now-husband sometimes can’t find her chocolate stash). And thus began the inspiration for the bucket of chocolate which may or may not be stashed in the upper right hand cabinet above the sink in my kitchen. Aaaaaaaaaand a second one that lives in an unnamed drawer of my desk at work (although I hold that that stash is important for my ministry, since many a student or young adult has enjoyed that particular stash in a moment of stress).
Okay, but seriously, Kasey and her fabulous bucket of goodness may have been my inspiration, but it is purely my fault when I head for the mini Dove bars instead of saying a prayer or walking up to the Adoration Chapel when I’m feeling stressed, which is often. Over the last few months, I’ve become more and more aware that I very often turn to things like chocolate when what I really need is God. It’s a quick fix, it makes me feel good….and it does absolutely nothing to solve the actual problem at hand. Praying would solve the problem at hand. Focusing on God’s providence and goodness would solve the problem at hand. Ingesting something tasty to distract me from the problem at hand DOES NOT solve the problem at hand. So while I’m typically against giving up food for Lent outside of the context of a group fast like the Orthodox do (incidentally, here is a great article on the dilemma of fasting during Lent while recovering from an eating disorder), this year I realized that in this case, it really was the chocolate that was getting in between me and God. So this year, it’s getting the axe (well, for the next two weeks at least which is plenty long enough, TRUST ME!).
I’ve already been tested in this fast with a handful of extremely stressful days that would normally have me running to that aforementioned cabinet. Instead, I’ve been taking a deep breath, saying a few Hail Marys or a general prayer to God, and focusing on the goodness He brings, the ways He’s provided for me in the past, and all the reasons I should trust Him. And come Easter, I’ll be praying in thanksgiving for my favorite guilty pleasure once more. But this time, perhaps I’ll be doing it with a little more of a spiritual balance.
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