Sunday, April 04, 2010

Lent, Addiction, and Failure

Today is Easter Sunday. Lent started on Ash Wednesday this year on February 17 - about 40 days ago, not counting Sundays. Many Christians take this time of year to think about the time Jesus spent in the desert at the beginning of his ministry, and his impending death at the end of his ministry (remembered on Good Friday).

This year, during Lent, I attempted to be more observant of the fasts, and to attempt to make it more of a season of confession, repentance, and reflection. Once again, I failed miserably.

I planned to observe the Friday fasts, which are, if I read correctly, a single normal-sized meal, as well as two smaller meals that don't add up to a whole meal. Plus, no meat. (Meat is considered warm-blooded animals, so fish is OK.)

Also, I decided I'd give up coke. So no soda. No pop. At all.

And, I made a daily commitment to read, study, and pray. To take some time to take a spiritual inventory. Of where I am, where I need to be.

I did OK on the first two. Just OK, because I messed up eating meat at least once on Friday, and stretched the "small meal" thing a bit. Also, I slipped up on the cokes a few times. But it was better than last year when I messed early on, and by the end, I was completely disregarding the commitment I made.

But that last one, I totally blew. I started reading the Bible through a while back - and thought I'd Twitter comments at
@ChronoBible (Chronological Bible). I wanted to pick it back up during the last 6 weeks, but didn't really. And I didn't spend the time in reflection I intended, either. More than usual, I guess. Which is good. I guess. But nothing like I intended.


But I think I learned something. The Fridays were a real eye-opener. I've talked a lot before about food, and eating, and gluttony. It's a struggle I've had all my life. Although, I was a skinny kid, and it really didn't show up until I was in college. (By the time I gained the freshman 15 - and the sophomore 15 - people were saying I looked good. But then came the junior 15, and the senior 15, and the 2nd-year senior 15...)

Back to Friday fasts. I'm not sure what hole I'm trying to fill by shoveling piles and piles of food into my mouth. But for some reason, during this season, I realized the obvious. I just don't need to eat so much.

Well, duh.

But this is why I've always been fascinated by psychology. How can I know a simple fact, for many, many years, yet not fully comprehend, understand, and internalize the implications of that fact except through some weird spiritual discipline? It's things like this that give me faith.

The first two steps in a 12-step program are:

1. We admitted we were powerless over our addiction - that our lives had become unmanageable


2. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity

It's been this 40-day process that has given me a different way of looking at eating. I have to say it's that "Power greater than myself" that did the work.


  1. Jim, I want you to know that you I really enjoyed reading this. It is funny, and insightful.

    I have been thinking that it's time that we, as a society really get back in touch with food. Not just how much we eat, but I think, more importantly WHAT we eat. Growing up in my house, food was a mix of what my Grandmother cooked (from "scratch", but "yucky"), fake food (yummy), "don't eat all of that", and "clean your plate". So confusing!
    When my sister started to get at little pudgy as a child, she was put on a juice diet, essentially starved. We never had enough. I think as adults, these mixed messages, combined with the crazy range of processed foods, fad diets, etc. has us more confused than ever. "Fat Free" made us fat. Atkins stressed our bodies. Our bodies are addicted to Hi-Fructose Corn Syrup and Hydrogenated Fats. I too struggled with it all, and continue to.
    Over the last few years, we have, as a family, just tried to be more conscious of what we buy, and therefore, what we have on hand. I don't believe in will-power. If I have Oreos in the house, I will eat the Oreos! But, no one ever got fat from eating too many oranges. I try to buy more fruit & veggies, whole foods, less processed junk, less meat (watch Food Inc., and you may do the same). I didn't buy the Diet Coke on sale at Target yesterday because I knew I would just drink it all. Little by little, what we eat has evolved into a better diet.

    Anyway, your reflection is insightful. Thank you for sharing, and I hope that my words help a little.

    - Cheryl

  2. Nice post Jim. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I really enjoyed reading this blog. Oh and welcome back to blogging!! P.S. Do ya'll want to go eat Friday night? :)