My author friend Becky says, “I’ve never been a Lenty Person, growing up as I did in the south where Southern Baptists breezed over Lent, and barely touched on the Crucifixion to get to the fun of Easter.” While so many are giving up Facebook for Lent, she boldly wrote her status, “Fear not. I will stay here holding down the Facebook Fort through Easter.”
This year, I was invited to participate in a blogging community who has committed to read through a book on surrendering and write together through this season of 40 days. And so this meant, by default, that I must give up something.
I pretended to make a list of things I could legitimately give up. I say ‘pretended’ because I knew before i even started the list what I would ultimately have to sacrifice. My beloved diet Coke is the one thing that controls my very living will.
I’ve never given up anything for Lent... or for any other reason. Okay, I gave up caffeine for the first couple of weeks of my first pregnancy. And I feigned relief when my doctor brought me a diet Coke after my son was born, since caffeine helps one’s milk to come in and besides he was sure I had been apart from it for far too long. “Ah, yes. Thank you, kind doctor.”
Actually, in my defense, I was still relieved. I think I’ve always been relieved when someone, anyone, has graciously placed a diet Coke in my hand.
There has been a virtual community, small but thriving, of other givers-up of the golden nectar. We sent each other messages like:
“I gave up diet Coke for Lent. In other news, I’ve lost my will to live.”
“I hear the clear stuff from the faucet is safe to drink. I’ll let you know.”
“On the ups, I seem to be making better menu choices. Since nothing at McDonalds goes well with water.”
“Do you know what goes well with water? Carbonation and syrup.”
“Every time I want a diet Coke, I drink a glass of wine instead. I’m so drunk I can’t see straight, which is making it tough to drive to the store to buy diet Coke.”
I made it 47 hours. Not even a full two days.
I texted my squad: “I’m outs, you guys. Godspeed to all of you.”
“Starting well counts for quite a lot.”
“It’s not how many times you fall, it’s how many times you get up. And while you’re up, grab me a diet Coke.”
There are all kinds of spiritual lessons for Lent, and you will have to go somewhere else to read those. Because I'm a mess.
Here’s what I learned in my not-even-two-days:
It is no question how alcoholics get to where they are. My drink of choice is socially acceptable, and that is my only difference. Take away my golden nectar, and I’m prone to headaches and sleeplessness and outright weeping.
I really do suck. I’m worthless, helpless, and cannot live without the grace that comes from forgiveness for all of the above. I’m made of flesh and thirst and hunger.
Right now, I’m feeding myself through a big fat straw and thanking Jesus that he is more than enough.