I figured out I can measure how addicted I am to something by the steps I take before starting abstinence from that thing. Like an alcoholic who deliberately goes on a three day binge before he is scheduled to go to rehab, I am sure to stock up on whatever it is that I will be giving up. Before Lent arrived, I ate everything sweet in sight. I was a giant vacuum cleaners sweeping up Raspberry Elegance Cake and Triple stuffed Oreos in anticipation of going forty-seven days without them. (Telling that I know exactly how long I must abstain!) I ate a whole box of chocolate in the car on the way home from the grocery store. Then, Lent arrived and I put the Valentine’s candy and gelato in the garage freezer and walked away. But, I keep looking back. I did not know how hard this was going to be for me. I am dying for a piece of chocolate or a Samoa Girl Scout cookie. Who in the heck decided to sell Girl Scout cookies in the middle of LENT? Plus, my brain feels really foggy, and I am convinced that it is because I need some sugar. Give me a bottle of Cheerwine, and I will feel fine, I know I will. At least every hour, probably ten times an hour if I am not chained to my desk at work where the only candy is boxes of Nerds left from Halloween (and even those are starting to look tasty) , I have to stop myself and say, “Which do you crave more, God or sugar?” Because I cannot stop obsessing about what it would feel like to eat some of the Lindor truffles that oldest son brought home and left on the kitchen counter. Last night, husband was very noisily unwrapping Hersey’s kisses and I wanted to snatch his head off. Doesn’t he know that you are supposed to let chocolate dissolve slowly in your mouth and not chew it like a bag of potato chips? Can’t you see I am dying here? Well, I am not really dying am I? Not like Jesus who died on the cross, am I? I will never know what he suffered, but if I could only learn to desire God like I am obsessing over the Reese’s peanut butter cups in the freezer, I would be so much better off. From obsession, I move to rationalizing. That granola bar is not a cookie so it is okay. The trail mix has raisins in it. The oatmeal cookie is really healthy. Lent is really only forty days so I don’t have to wait until Easter to stop fasting. I don’t live under the law. I could eat that candy bar and would not suffer condemnation for it. It is not about what I do, but what is in my heart. And right now, abstinence from sugar is showing that my heart needs a lot of work.
I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart.” Psalm 40:8 NIV)