Although I've never before observed the tradition of Lent, as I was studying the subject five weeks ago, Papa God whispered to my heart that He wanted to teach me more about personal sacrifice. I was okay with that.
Until He mentioned that chocolate - gasp! - was the sacrifice.
SIX WEEKS WITHOUT CHOCOLATE??? You've got to be kidding!
The problem is that I'm a world class choco-athlete (I prefer this term over chocoholic; sounds healthier somehow). I've not missed a single day without the creamy, delicious, delightful stuff for thirty years, with the exception of four months in 2008 when I was dutifully bound by a strict no-fat diet (wonder why?)
How could I possibly give up my life blood? My reason for living past 3 PM every day? Surely I misunderstood. Instead of chocolates, maybe God said to give up socklets or wallclocks.
Only those things hold no great affinity for me and I know the purpose of Lent is self-sacrifice, reflection anad repentance. Originating before AD 1500 as a preparatory time for Easter, Lent is the forty-day period beginning on Ash Wednesday during which believers commemorate Jesus' forty-day pilgrimage into the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-2) by fasting, praying and rededicating themselves.
I realized that it was no personal sacrifice if the item I was fasting held no special meaning to me. If it wasn't melted into my very soul with its luscious Godiva tentacles wound around my heart and caressing the comfort center of my brain. Sigh.
And so I entered the Lenten season kicking and screaming, wrestling the overwhelming hourly urge to indulge my little secret vice. When you can't have something, it screams your name even louder.
With only a few days to go, you can well imagine that I'm a bit, well, on edge. Actually, I fear it's withdrawal: My hands shake, my head jerks like a squirrel's and I'm even more ornery than usual. I know this because my family and friends are now baking me brownies and begging me to take just one nibble of fudge. I don't think they can stand me much longer.
But I'm holding firm.
How pathetic that Jesus could suffer and die for me and I struggle to give up this one little thing when He asks me to. Every time I open my computer drawer containing my stash of Cadbury bars, I breathe in the heavenly aroma and remember His sacrifice for me.
It doesn't quell the craving but at least it redirects my thoughts and fills me with humble gratitude.
Another added bonus, I have definitely learned more about that prune in the fruit bowl of the spirit: self-control. But I still plan on biting the heads off every chocolate bunny I can find Easter morning.