I don’t normally make it a habit of denying myself things I want.
I’m not saying I go around demanding things like a toddler, or doing whatever I feel like, whenever I feel like it. Okay, I do, sometimes.
You can imagine how tough Lent is for me. Even though I grew up Catholic, I still struggle with the act of “giving up” something I desire for an entire 40 days. Or ever.
For years I operated under the guidelines of choosing the most difficult thing I could think of to give up for Lent. So yeah, alcohol. And each year, I’d make it about 2 weeks and then I’d come up with some ridiculous reason for why it was “ok” for me to cheat. On St. Patrick’s Day, for example, it is mandatory to drink green beer. That’s church doctrine, right? (wink)
Of course, if you are Catholic, then you know all about the “Sundays are free” rule. Because Sundays are not counted in the 40 days of Lent, it is not considered cheating to break your Lenten promise on Sunday. So normally I’d “switch” Sunday out for Friday night, and have a drink. Swapping cheat days is only advisable if you are 100% sure you are already going to heaven, just to be clear. (Just assume I’m winking after every paragraph at this point)
Anyway, this year I decided not to set myself up for failure. I’m not privy to any of those “miracle meds” that other women my age apparently get from their doctor in order to stay calm and deal with anxiety and general craziness, so I need that beer on a Friday night. Or a Tuesday. Whatever.
Instead I chose the less traumatizing “no fast food” Lenten promise. This is, of course, in addition to subscribing to Pope Francis’ suggestion that we give up “indifference toward others” for Lent. Francis knows what it’s all about. I’ll have to do an entire other post on how much I love him.
The truth is, I don’t really eat fast food unless I have a hangover, so this seemed almost too easy. Except: apparently if I can’t have something, I desire it even more. Who knew?
Oh yeah, I totally knew. Because I’m the type of person who has to fight on a daily basis with my inner rebel. Tell me what to do and I almost always have the desire to do the opposite. So even though I hardly ever want fast food normally, now that it’s off limits, guess what I want all the time?
I’ve been doing really well, though. That night we left a school function at 8pm and I was so hungry I could have eaten any manner of disgusting foods, including Taco Bell (sorry, it is a known fact that you should only run for the border if you are less than 20 years old or extremely intoxicated and unlikely to remember it later), I passed up several fast food chains and went home to eat…yogurt, probably. And every time I see a McDonald’s I have to remind myself of the sacrifices Jesus made for me just to overcome my extreme desire for a disgusting fish sandwich. I wonder how many of my former religion teachers would take pride in their part of my subconscious conversations about these fish sandwiches?
It’s unreal, this desire, that did not even exist six weeks ago. But the heart wants what it wants. And so does my stomach.
Which brings us to this morning, which is Sunday (just wanted to assure you that it’s a LEGIT cheat day), when John and I happened to be driving past the Burgers & Shakes on New Circle Road, and it just happened to be open. “It’s Sunday,” I said, right before he swerved the truck into the parking lot of the best-kept-secret burger joint in Lexington. They only take cash, but through what can only be God’s divine plan, I found a $10 bill in my coat pocket. Catholic miracle.
Anyway, in 6 more days Lent will be over and I can go back to NOT desiring fast food at all. Thinking ahead to next year: If I give up cleaning house will I suddenly want to clean the house for 40 days?
side note: John does not like the idea of Sundays being “cheat days” and he specifically (and in a joking way) told me that we would keep our little Burgers & Shakes outing to ourselves. He had to know that telling me to keep it to myself would, in fact, guarantee that I would write a blog about it, post it to my Instagram and generally not be able to keep my mouth shut.