I am a Diet Coke addict.

There, I confessed it.

When the Empress was very little, I was diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The symptoms were such that I honestly felt as if I were having a heart attack. This was quite...disconcerting...for someone in her late 30s, with a family history of heart disease. (My paternal grandmother died of heart disease in her 50s.)

One of the things I had to do to deal with GERD was to give up soda. It was a terribly difficult thing for me, because I drank multiple cans a day---but for many years, I couldn't drink more than 3 sips of soda before I felt the tell-tale chest pains.

It tells you something about my addiction that I kept trying...

About a 18 months ago, I discovered that I could drink sodas again. I suspect it had to do with the fact that I COMPLETELY changed my life. I was no longer miserable, and apparently my body responded by lowering acid production. So I'm back up to my 3-4 cans-a-day Diet Coke habit.

What I love about Diet Coke is the bite.

It's not the taste. It's the "bite" of the carbonation that hooks me. And there is a lesson there, I'm afraid.

I love to bite. I love to argue, and even more than loving to argue, I love to win.

Tonight, as Dear Friend recited the liturgy for Ash Wednesday, I asked God to help me lose my love of the bite. I asked for a gentle spirit and a gentle and forgiving heart.

This is a hard request for someone who continually battles for justice for the marginalized. I have said many times that I wish Jesus hadn't said all that stuff about loving your enemies and praying for those who persecute you. It's so much FUN to eviscerate the people with whom you disagree! And, to be perfectly honest with you, I'm pretty damned good at it.

But biting doesn't achieve much, does it? All it does it CREATE enemies--and all *that* does is lengthen my prayer list!

I will never give up my passion for justice and the Gospel, but I have seen people who know how to advocate for the good without biting. I know that it is possible--and that it will take a miracle to achieve it in my case.

I am giving up Diet Coke for Lent--and hoping to give up the bite. In my case, it is a serious sacrifice for both. I ask for your prayers.