Six days to go until Lent is over, and I just walked into this in the kitchen.
It’s beautiful. I love tiramisu. And because I gave up desserts for Lent, I can’t have any of it.
But you know what? I also sort of don’t care.
When I first started going 46 days without dessert, I thought I would be miserable. I LOVE sweets, and I have very little will power when it comes to resisting it.
But something neat happens when you practice a discipline. You start to become more, you know, disciplined.
You start to gain more will power. Challenges you thought you wouldn’t be able to overcome become surprisingly more manageable.
Most unexpected for me — this increased will power is showing up in other areas of my life, not just resisting desserts. I’m finding it easier to have self control in other ways, with things that have not been easy in the past.
For a long time, I chose not to participate in Lent. And while I don’t want to minimize my reasons for that choice, I wish I hadn’t let my fear of legalism keep me from experiencing a neat thing that God had to show me. Or having this chance to strengthen and grow my relationship with him, and to cultivate a new fruit of the spirit (self control).
Before Lent, I eased my way into going without sugar, so the shock of the change wouldn’t feel so strong. I started giving up desserts for just a day at a time. If you want to practice a new spiritual discipline, it’s okay to start slowly. You don’t have to leap in head first. It’s okay to wade (as long as you keep moving forward) — and DON’T FEEL GUILTY if you struggle, mess up, or aren’t great at it in the beginning.
The point isn’t perfection. The point is making practical changes to how we live our daily lives that allow us to focus on God better than we were able to before. And to be more in tune to how God is leading us.
Disciplines like giving up desserts for a period of time aren’t punishments. They’re not something God wants us to do just to suffer, or because denying something we want makes us pious and uber-spiritual.
They’re not merit badges, or something God does out of spite, because pain is a part of life and we need to learn how to deal with it. Spiritual disciples are tools that God gives us because he sees when we struggle, and he wants to give us practical tools so that we don’t have to struggle as much.
Giving up something for Lent is just one example. It’s just one way that God gives us support and help as we journey through life. And I wish I would have started tapping into it a whole lot earlier.