What's Easter without the chocolate, bunnies and egg hunts?
Every year, Christians observe the season of Lent, leading up to Easter, the celebration of Jesus' resurrection. During this time, Christians prepare their hearts with reflection, repentance, and fasting to respect and recognize the sacrifice of Jesus. Some give up a particular food or activity, while others fast from food certain days of the week.
I've always had a sweet tooth. Sugar is something that I crave everyday. I have to have it with every meal. I am that person who goes to the dessert table for one cookie and comes back with a full plate. Can anyone relate? But being a health nut, I know how the excessive amounts of sugar in processed foods, its addictive qualities, and the terrible effect it has on our bodies and health long term. You name it, I've researched every possible way sugar is bad for you. Psychologically, I turn snacking on sugary foods when stressed instead of talking with God. Overtime, I have realized that sugar has a mental hold on me that it shouldn't. This year, I have decided to give up sugar for Lent, knowing it will be the hardest thing for me to sacrifice. Below, I share the first three weeks of my experience:
Week 1: Breaking Expectations
Normally, I just give up something for Lent, but this year, the women of my campus ministry decided to go through the bible plan "Devotions for Lent From Holy Bible: Mosaic." The Bible plan features daily devotionals and related scriptures. We're reading through the book of Mark on the weekends, and get a break on Sundays. Normally, I find plans restrictive and prefer to read at my own pace, but this Bible plan has drawn me as the devotional time re-centers my mind to focus on Jesus. I've learned each part of the historical church calendar from Advent to Pentecost. Celebrating Jesus is a yearlong, 24/7 event. (#EasterEveryday) Fasting isn't about your sacrifice and self-discipline, but recognizing and celebrating the significance of Jesus' sacrifice with praise and worship. To do so, you need to include more time of prayer and dwelling with the Lord. For the first time, I actually observed Lent as a holy season by staying in God's Word.
Overall, the first week broke my expectations. I wasn't as tempted as I expected. I could walk past the dessert table in my school's dining hall. I sat in front of a pan of brownies for two hours during bible study. Each time I encountered the temptation I didn't feel that strong urge to give in. I felt indifferent, knowing that food wasn't good for me and wouldn't fulfill me the way God is in His Word. As I clung to the Lord and His Word each day, he guarded my heart from temptation.
Week 2: Home for Spring Break and Making Exceptions
For week two, I traveled home for spring break, where my family keeps sweets in the house. (All the time!) My mom was gracious enough to buy me strawberries and crepes, but put them next to the chocolate chip cookies. (the mini kind so you can't realize how many you've eaten!)
In the devotional, I learned that Jesus fulfills us more than anything on this Earth can. Jesus is better than chocolate cake--even your Grandma's. So when you're tempted to indulge in whatever you gave up, turn to God's word and cry out to Him because he can fulfill you so much more than food can. He meets us where we are. Don't overindulge in earthly bread and starve yourself of the everlasting manna.
Week 3: Officially Over This
My Lent commitment to Lord began to waver. As I entered a week of busyness, I felt more temptation to eat sugar, but this made me realize how much I need to stick close to God. When I'm weak and busy and broken, the Lord can keep me grounded in my commitment. Mentally, I came up with a defense. When I pass by the free cupcakes or the dessert case at Starbucks, I tell myself, "It's not just good for me." In saying this, I'm not chastising myself in a way that hurts my relationship to that food. I know that if I eat sugar, God will forgive, but I will feel guilty and only be temporarily satisfied. Again, I needed to remind myself: God satisfies us like nothing on this Earth. When we face temptation, we can turn right to Him for safety, security and satisfaction.