Let me level with you– I like potatoes. I like them A LOT. They may even be my favorite food. At the Casa de Scribbler, we eat fried potatoes in one form or another about four times a week. Easter Sunday, 2009, I decided to abstain from French Fries (and chips, and hash browns) for one calendar year.
At the time, I had a strong hold on the Lenten idea of sacrifice and penance for the Lord. I wanted to do a BIG sacrifice for God– something hard. I wanted to set a difficult standard for myself to meet, in the hopes that every day would be a constant reminder of what Jesus sacrificed for ME.
As the months passed by, I think I lost that idea of sacrifice and reminder. I got hold of a goal, and being the tunnelvisioned individual that I am, I almost forgot the whole point of my newly potatoless existance. It became a challenge– something to overcome. When people asked why ( and I am embarassed to tell you that MANY people noticed my lack of starchy indulgence– which conversely means that my love of the spud had fairly obvious to all and sundry) I poo pooed something about weight loss and health benefits.
This of course, was a lie. A little lie, a white one, but a lie none the less. Why lie? Well, a little bit because talkiing about faith is hard for me– I feel judged, and insecure when I speak with people who I know are not religious. I’d like to kid myself that it had to do with the Bible passages which tell us not to pull long faces when we fast so that people ask about it, because if we do, we’ve had our reward on earth and will recieve none in Heaven. While I know this divinely inspired passage to be true, it was sadly not really my motivation for the fibbing. Nope, tired old human weakness and sin were the reasons I fibbed about my abstinence from the fry.
I think I gained a lot from this experience. I learned a lot about myself, my motivations and my weaknesses from this experiment. I had a good opportunity to give testimony about sacrifice and Jesus’s love, and I flushed it right down the toilet. My focus shifted from God, to myself. Could I do it? Could I last from Easter to Easter without what was once such a staple in my diet? Had I the willpower?
It became about me– about my willpower, something I was doing. It was supposed to be about God, something He helped me to do to show my love for Him.
So what is the point of this post? Am I telling you all not to bother with self-denial and abstinence? Am I belittling the idea of Lenten sacrifice?
Not at all.
I intend to continue to engage in this type of sacrifice. I will silently offer my sacrifices to the Lord, and I encourage you to do the same. Through understanding my weaknesses, by reflecting on my shifting motivation this last year, I think I have come a baby-step closer to God. The next time I undertake such an endeavor, I will be more aware of my motivation, and strive harder to maintain my focus.
It has been a good excercise– one worth sharing. Lent is a time of repentence, prayer, abstinance and fasting. I time to reflect upon our sins and renew our baptismal vows– a time to refocus ourselves (if necessary) on the Lord. In three days time we will celebrate Easter– a time of joy, for the Scriptures are fulfilled when He is Risen! I personally would do well to carry Lent with me a little longer throughout the year– so that on feast days I may TRULY feast with joy in my Savior, Christ Jesus, through whom all good things come.
I think the most positive thing about 2009– fondly referred to as the Year Without French Fries– is that it has cured me of my apathy, of the mortal sin of religious sloth. I wasnt even aware that I had needed this cure until it arrived. I am really looking forward to Easter this year– even more so than usual– because this year I am awake in a new way. I can make my joy in Jesus’ Resurrection about God, and not about me. And that is definately worth the sacrifice!