This year, I participated in one of the three Lenten spiritual disciplines for the second time in my life. I chose fasting as my discipline for the month and a half, and I chose to fast from dessert.
Because I believe in honesty, I be up front and say that my initial motivation behind giving up dessert for Lent was for healthy eating reasons. I have a sweet tooth the size of Texas, and Lent seemed like a convenient excuse to attempt to change my over-indulgent patterns that often left me extremely frustrated with myself. On Ash Wednesday, Tina had a fantastic post about Lenten fasts. Reading and commenting on that post helped me formulate a new mindset going into Lent. Instead of giving up dessert and using Lent as something to hide behind to make me feel better about my own eating habits, I gave up dessert because it would be a challenge. I may not have needed to pray for strength every time I felt tempted by dessert, but dessert is something I usually am not able to say no to, no matter how badly I’d like to. Instead of fasting from dessert to lose weight or look better, I fasted from dessert to learn to overcome temptation.
Following through on this was not always easy, and I did give in once when I was having dinner at the house of the president of my school for a student organization I’m in. Mexico was a particular challenge, especially when we went to a bulk candy store, went out for ice cream, and celebrated three birthdays with three separate cakes. Being at home from Maundy Thursday through Easter was the worst, since we always have homemade baked goods around my house and no one makes cookies quite like my mom. I stuck with it, though, and kept my sweets consumption to things like granola and yogurt rather than candy and cookies.
For me, participating in a Lenten fast helped me get more out of the season. Spiritually, it may not seem like giving up dessert would make a world of difference, and that specific act might not have. However, participating in Lent made me much more conscious of the season. I often forget Lent is happening between Ash Wednesday and Easter, but I can truly say that I did not forget Lent once in these past six and a half weeks. Continually focusing on the season of Lent helped me prepare for Good Friday and Easter in a way that I never have before. I was born and raised in the church, and the story of Easter never changes. It’s become very easy for me to go through the motions and mindlessly do what is expected without mentally engaging in the holiday at all. That was not the case this year. I feel like Easter meant so much more to me this year, not because it finally meant I could eat chocolate again, but because I have been eagerly anticipating its arrival for 40+ days. Fasting made me aware and I truly believe it helped me grow spiritually.
Christ is risen from the dead, trampling over death by death!
Have you ever participated in Lent? How was your experience?
How was your Easter?