This year I decided to go “old school” for Lent: I’m giving up sweets. As I mentioned two weeks ago, I’ve been addicted to sugar for many years. I’ve come up with some darn good strategies to avoid addressing the issue, but it’s time to stop, for a lot of reasons, including my health, my energy level for work, and my own integrity. And saying it “out loud,” on this blog, helps to make it more real—to commit to making this change in my life.
For many years I’ve talked about how the goal of Lent is to draw us closer to God. I’ve invited people to think about taking on a discipline for Lent, rather than giving up something. For example, taking on the discipline of doing a random act of kindness every day, rather than giving up chocolate. Or sharing your Gospel love with someone, somehow, during each day of Lent. Living out the Gospel message is more likely to help you grow closer to God than denying yourself a certain type of food.
However, in the past few weeks I’ve realized that there are more layers to this Lenten discipline thing. You see, if a certain type of food is an addiction, then it’s already getting in the way of being connected with God. When the thought crossed my mind, “would I even be the same person if I stopped eating sugar?” I knew that the question also held the answer. As long as I am using sugar the way others use alcohol or drugs, I am not living the life that I was created by God to live.
And so, there is fruit on my plate instead of candy this Lent. For the next few weeks I will find the discipline, one day at a time, to snack on crackers instead of chocolate—and, even more important, to turn to God in prayer whenever I feel that urge to reach for the sugar. Because I am created by God to be sweet enough without it.
Have you taken on a Lenten discipline? Feel free to share it out loud, in the comments section below, so that all who read it can support you in living out this commitment, during Lent and even beyond.