I'm following the blood type diet during Lent (always remembering that Sundays are a reprieve...did you know that? yep. ). The first week didn't go so well...Ash Wednesday was 2 days before my birthday and Andrew and I went to Pittsburgh for my birthday and for that Saturday. (More on this another post...) So, needless to say, I didn't stay on my diet then. Also, Andrew left town for the following Monday and Tuesday, leaving us without my "BloodType A" diet staples (and me with no money in the bank)...so I ended up eating Mac n Cheese with the kids (although the mac n cheese is loaded with veggies...I NEVER serve plain mac n cheese in our house...my kids are going to be going to friends' houses to get plain mac n cheese like I did when I was little...). So, the rest of the week, I did pretty well, but with the time change, I still feel tired instead of better like I usually feel when I do the diet... :(
But then, this morning as I was driving to school to substitute teach for Mom--in the dark--after being awakened 3 times during my short 5 hour night of sleep--downing coffee to keep from driving off the road--that my willingness to sacrifice (albeit not a large sacrifice, but enough to make it sting...) this morning and make it to school despite my many excuses not to -- is partly because we fast and give things up--not only for Lent, but as a discipline in the Christian Church. Apart from its parallel meanings to Christ's life and journey, it keeps the feeling of uncomfortability from feeling too foreign, giving us strength at times when life is, well, uncomfortable. And who isn't feeling uncomfortable right now?
Of course, I knew these things, but several points were driven home today as I listened to NPR news and the droning on and on about how we need a "quick fix" for the problems we face. This "practice" of feeling uncomfortable is such a radical idea in our world! I'm sure that if there were studies done during hard times on stress levels in people who fast and people who don't, I'll bet that the stress levels in people who fast are lower... Of course, I've never done such a test, but I know that from my own experience that once I took the whole sacrifice thing seriously (anyone with a child has done this to a point....), when hard times hit, I know I felt more prepared to handle them... Of course, you never get rid of the pain, but at least you know a little something about being uncomfortable and can say that you've been there. And at the VERY least, you find that the daily things you thought were uncomfortable, aren't anymore.
It's hard to remember this, though, when you're in the midst of sacrificing. A teacher/author I admire (Brian McLaren) once said that when he fasts, he "doesn't feel closer to God," he "feels closer to pizza!" :) But this week at church, our priest gave a sermon about dying to yourself...and how we immediately feel the effects of it. It's like living the Easter story! It's much easier to sacrifice when you believe that every time you deny yourself those comfortable things, you are dying to yourself so that new life can spring in its place! We are Easter people, after all! What a different end to the story than we are told on the news every night...
I'm still trying to stay true to my sacrifice, and even today, I failed a bit, eating cheese when I was supposed to avoid dairy... But the next time I put something in my mouth, I have a new chance to die to myself...and remember that new life will spring up in me where the old life ended. And who doesn't need a second chance now and then?
3 weeks ago