I'm sitting here with a full stomach. Overfull, really. It's the first time in a week that I have felt this way. Up until this point, one week into Lent, I've done a fabulous job of fasting. I walked past the junk food in the grocery store and turned my nose up in disgust. I avoided the break room at work when a friend brought in cookies for her birthday treat. I've said "no" to my children's repeated requests for treats. I've held firm to my annual Lenten resolve: no alcohol, no junk food, no sweets, no snacking between meals, and only one meal each day (dinner with my family).
So why is it that today I caved? My boss invited me to a noontime session on helping others cope with grief. The program sounded intriguing and I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to be a better support for my clients who suffer the loss of their babies, not to mention being able to use the information in my personal life as well. So I accepted the invitation and attended the program. I didn't know that it included lunch. I sat in my chair during the entire hour-long program without a single glance at the box-lunch on the table in front of me. In fact, I didn't give it a single thought. But now I wish I would have. I wish I would have thought that I could take it home and give it to my family, or leave it in the office refrigerator with an "up-for-grabs" sign on it, or even leave it behind on the table as I left. But, no. I took it back to my office with me.
Just a peek. That's all I wanted to do, just peek inside the box and see what was inside. Temptation stared me in the face and I caved! That roast beef sandwich with lettuce and tomato was so delicious! And so large! OK, now I began to rationalize with myself. I just won't eat supper tonight. We're going to be busy with lots of basketball games tonight, I would just be grabbing leftovers for supper anyway. I can skip that, no problem! I put the chips, cookie, and apple in my cupboard to take home for the kids. But halfway through the afternoon, I broke down and ate the chips. They didn't even taste good, yet I couldn't stop until the bag was empty.
Regret fills my soul. That's a cross, too.
Every year I start Lent with the best of intentions. I am going to feel those pangs of hunger each day and unite them with the pangs of suffering that Jesus endured on His way to the cross. I tell Jesus that I love Him so much and that I long to suffer for Him. I start out strong, but my resolve dwindles. I know that tomorrow is another day and I can start all over again. But Jesus didn't have that opportunity. Once he started down that frightful way of the cross, there was no turning back, no starting over, he had to take it all the way to crucifixion.
My Jesus, I am so sorry. I am so weak. But Your strength is enough for both of us. Make me strong like You, help me to endure little pains and trials, even the pain of not being able to suffer for You. Once again, you have given me a lesson in humility, in a way that I least expected it. You knocked my pride down and let me know that I cannot bring on my own suffering by choosing how I will fast. It is You who will decide how I should suffer, and all I can do is humbly accept whatever cross You give me, even the cross of failure and regret.
Tomorrow, I will do my best to return to my Lenten fast, but I know that if I fail, it is a gift from You. You are teaching me that there is nothing I can do on my own, but that I can do all things through You, my only source of strength. Amen.