‘Tis the season to hear about Lent. What people are giving up this Lent. It becomes a common question, and an easy alibi.
I realized yesterday why it is that we have Lenten Commitments. Maybe not the theological reason, but why it is that we commit to giving something up for 40 days. It’s to discover what we depend on, but shouldn’t; and what we don’t depend on, but should. When I take a really good, strong look into my life, and what I depend on, I’m shocked. Of course I depend on my family and friends, but surely God wouldn’t want me to give them up for 40 days!? Beyond relationships, what vice do I have that I lean on when days are tough?
I’m not afraid to tell you what I gave up for Lent. I know the whole “pray in secret” logic, but I will be honest: it would be a lot harder for me to be faithful to this commitment if I didn’t put it all out there. I’m depending on accountability here! Because this Lenten season, I have given up chocolate.
I’m not giving up chocolate because I need the diet, but because chocolate is my go-to. It is my pick me up. I’m dependant on chocolate, and that is no good. You would be shocked by how much chocolate is in my home. And in my office. And at the day center where I work. And at every.single.meeting I attend! It is common in every dessert. It has become almost comical to notice how much chocolate is around me. When I’m craving that mid-morning, or mid-afternoon snack, there is nothing to reach for at the day center this isn’t chocolate or a donut! (which I gave up as my New Year’s Resolution!)
So on days like yesterday, when I was seething, and just wanted to pull my hair out; or the night before, when I was worried and frantic, it’s a good thing I had to learn (again) how to depend on something other than chocolate. Had I not made the very public commitment to give up chocolate, I would have indulged myself yesterday as a form of making myself feel better. But with the loyalty to that commitment hanging over my head, it helped me to realize what chocolate really is for me. It isn’t just a delightful little snack. It is more than I need or even want it to be.
So this Lenten season, I vow to not only give up my dependency on chocolate, but resolve to try to shift that dependency back to where it should be in the first place. In myself, and in my God.