This past year has been full of trials and tribulations. It has been a year of learning and growing deeper in my relationship with Jesus Christ. None of it has been easy, but I am better for it. After much prayer I felt led to participate in Lent for the first time this year.
But before we get into the why, we need to understand what Lent really is. Lent is a religious observance (most commonly by Catholics) from Ash Wednesday until Holy Saturday. It is a period lasting 40 days, not counting Sundays, or 44 days counting Sundays. Traditionally Catholics purposed Lent for the preparation of “the believer through prayer, penance, repentance, almsgiving and self-denial. Many of the faithful commit to fasting or giving up certain types of luxuries as a form of penitence.” (Wikipedia) Lent was/is a time to grow deeper in your walk with the Lord, not make a countdown until you could have a Dr. Pepper again.
So why now? Many of my friends in high school participated each year, but since I was not Catholic I dismissed it altogether. Why am I choosing to participate now? No, this is not a religious statement. I do not intend to have any miraculous epiphanies nor do I count myself more “godly” than someone who doesn’t participate. This is simply a personal decision and a time to focus more on my relationship with Jesus Christ.
What am I giving up? The past few months my diet has drastically changed. I have been gluten-free since July and completely grain-free for nearly 6 weeks now. Both have made a HUGE difference in my health. But, my one vice – the one thing I could not give up – was CHOCOLATE. Yep. I said it.
Why Chocolate? Growing up I was never allowed to have candy or chocolate at all – or at least very rarely. My mom learned early on that I became very hyper when I had sugar of any kind. Even a stick of gum would set me running for hours! So, my mom really restricted my sweets. I remember having my first candy bar – or at least the first one I remember – when I was in 4th grade. I thought it was okay, but it was definitely too sweet for me. The older I got and the more I became serious about ballet, the less I cared about sweets. It wasn’t until I was in college and on my own that I found myself grabbing more sweets and eating them whenever I wanted. Now don’t get me wrong, I come by the sweet tooth honestly, but it quickly got out-of-control.
When I was pregnant with Mister Bull, I remember not caring what I ate or watching how much I ate. It had never been a problem and I was pregnant after all, so what was the harm? Well, the harm turned out to be the 80+ pounds I gained during the pregnancy, an emergency c-section 4 ½ weeks early due to high blood pressure and a host of other complications following the delivery. Now, since then I have not gained any weight except during my three other pregnancies. All of which were between 20-25 pounds and all of which I lost within 2 weeks of delivery. Yes, I said 2 weeks!! I am a “cow” when it comes to producing milk for my babies. They nursed well and the pounds fell off. But, I have never lost the other weight from Mister Bull’s pregnancy. And I know my eating habits are a HUGE part of that.
Since the carbs are mostly gone now that I can’t have any grains, the only thing left to rid myself of is the CHOCOLATE. It’s not that chocolate itself is bad for you, it’s that I used it as a comfort…a crutch…a friend when I was lonely, depressed, sad or just because I had a hard day. There were times that I muttered the words, “Since I don’t drink…I need some chocolate.” That’s a problem!! At least for me it is.
How’s it going? I have not had a single piece of chocolate since Wednesday and so far, so good. I haven’t tried to kill anyone yet and I haven’t raided the kids Treasure Box for any stragglers! I’d say that’s success for the first 3 days!! Honestly, I haven’t really noticed myself craving it either, so that is good.
My Prayer: My prayer is that when I crave that sweetness that I will run to Christ as my source of strength. When I have a rough or stressful day I want to run to His Word for peace. When I feel lonely (which happens a lot since the Hubster works nights), I want to run to Jesus for companionship. When I feel lost or confused I want to run to Him to find my way. When I feel depressed I want to run to My Savior for comfort. When I feel broken and discouraged I want to run to Him for healing.
So that’s why this non-Catholic is participating in Lent this season. Sure I may gain a little better body and be more healthy, but it’s not so much my physical health that I’m concerned with – it’s my Spiritual Health.
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