Is Lent over yet? Oh, wait, I just remembered that Ash Wednesday was last week, so this is… oh, no, this is day seven! And already my fingers are itching to check the latest posts on Facebook, while I’m simultaneously longing to gobble down a large chocolate bar studded with almonds.
Day seven and I already am falling down into the Lenten pit of gloom, wherein I slink aimlessly around the house, feeling edgy and sad.
And it’s all because I’m an addict, and this is Lenten withdrawal.
Addicted to what, you may ask? First, to checking Facebook: I’m pretty sure I check it at least 100 times a day. Sometimes I will look to see how many people have “liked” one of my posts – and yes, I know that’s pathetic – while other times I’m curious to see what others are posting.
Lord, what a waste of time! And I know it, too, but I tell myself it’s harmless fun – which is also what other addicts say.
Excessive beer guzzling? “Helps me unwind.” Gobbling down desserts? “Cheers me up a bit.” Hours spent at the mall buying stuff you don’t need? “Shopping therapy!”
I’m also battling my inordinate fondness for chocolate, the universal cure-all for all my ills, disappointments, and regrets. Chocolate in all forms, including truffles, sundaes, ice-cream, cookies, cake – and (whimper) large bars studded with almonds.
Years ago, I went to a talk where the topic was “What things are holding you back spiritually?” Whoa! That was quite a challenge to answer. At the time my husband and I had a second house in Florida, and we were pouring too much money – and time – into upkeep, so after some prayer (and weeping), we sold it.
It’s your turn now (you knew this was coming). What’s holding you back spiritually? Once you answer that, you can approach Lent with renewed vigor. Here’s some help:
Step one: Where do you run when you feel stressed out, depressed, lonely or exhausted? Is it the corner bar? The mall? The refrigerator? The computer? (Please tell me it is not all of the above, or this is going to be one excruciating Lent!)
Once you have your answer, you know you’re on your way. Drinking booze, spending excessively, stuffing your face, and playing mind-numbing computer games (or checking Facebook 100 times a day) are all attempts to snuff out troubles and pain. And they never work.
Step two: Stop doing one – or maybe two – of these things during Lent. Warning: If you try to drop all of your, er, long-time habits (doesn’t that sound better than addictions?), you may not make it very far past Ash Wednesday.
Step three: Find a substitute for the things you are giving up. No, this doesn’t mean that you get to eat vanilla wafers instead of Oreos – or sherbet instead of ice cream – although I will admit I’ve done that in the past.
Remember, the Lord knows your heart, and He will not be fooled if you promise Him to give up the mall, and then transfer your shopping habit to the Internet. He also knows about low-alcohol beer.
So what’s a substitute for what you’re giving up? The only thing that works is getting down on your knees and praying! Even if the prayer is just: “Restrain me, Lord! Macy’s is having a big sale!” or: “Heavenly Father, the dog ate the kids’ socks and the hamster is loose again. I need a chocolate bar!”
If you follow this guide, you will have a really smashing Lent filled with glorious happiness and moments of bliss. Well, not really, but you may tame one or more bad habits, and, more importantly, find yourself praying more than ever before.
As for me, every time my fingers itch to log onto Facebook, I say a prayer. OK, sometimes it’s just “Lord, make Easter come soon.” But at least it’s a prayer.
Lorraine has written two LOL mysteries, “Death in the Choir” and “Death of a Liturgist,” plus a very serious book about Flannery O’Connor, “The Abbess of Andalusia.” You may email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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