One of the reasons I decided to go back to giving up my daily pleasures of Diet Cokes and sweets was because in my early years of "doing Lent"--which I did on my own, outside of church--those little deprivations made me do a lot of soul-searching. Those were my "good Lents," if you will.
Once I got into church, I heard other people take a lot of ribbing about giving up chocolates or sodas---the implication was that these were not SERIOUS disciplines. That "real" Christians gave up things that mattered or---more important--took on new spiritual disciplines.
I'm sure that no one was TRYING to do spiritual one-upsmanship, but that was the message I got. So, for the most part, I stopped giving stuff up and started trying to take stuff on.
As a result, I haven't had a "good Lent" in years. I'm a mother, own my own business, and now commute to be a wife too. (And I have to fit the dog in there somewhere.) I have finally realized that taking stuff on is--quite simply--a recipe for spiritual failure at this point in my life.
(And before someone comes in here and starts giving me a pep-talk about not thinking of spiritual things in terms of "failure"...well, thanks, but don't worry. It's a figure of speech, you know?)
So I'm back to giving up the little things I really enjoy--and consume without thinking most of the time. I will not win any Olympic gold medals for my discipline--and I'm sure there are plenty of folks who will find my choices puerile (if I even bother to mention them, outside of the blogosphere). But I'm coming to understand that God is in EVERYTHING--even in the smallest and seemingly most insignificant choices I make.
To be honest, there is some discomfort in that. Who wants to think that God is interested in Every.Single.Thing you do? It sounds almost stalker-ish...
And yet...I grow more and more convinced that, in everything we do and every choice we make, God is there, calling to us. Calling us to the good--for ourselves, for others, and for the earth. Calling us to holiness--to be the people we were meant to be. Calling us into a relationship so total and--dare I say it?--erotic, that it makes sex look tame and boring.
That's a lot to lay on an unopened can of Diet Coke. But, for me, it's a start--or, more accurately, it's my little choice for this morning. This morning, I chose to write this blog post, rather than succumb to the temptation of going downstairs for the soda (even though I can hear it calling my name from here). I thought about God for the better part of the morning. And while I won't claim that I reached any Kama Sutra-type heights, I felt connected.
Somehow, I think that's what it's all about.