If I remember correctly, very few of you were around my blog this time last year. Because of that, you may or may not know that I fasted from dessert for the duration of Lent in 2012. It was the first time I had ever done a fast for Lent, and it proved to be one of the better things I’ve ever done for my spiritual life. I reflected on the experience after Easter, but I think a lot of what I had to say there bears repeating, so here we go.
I love sugar. I love cookies, I love cake, I love frosting, I love chocolate, I love brownies, I love dessert. Love. It. If I could reasonably eat only sugar-laden baked goods for every single meal of every single day, I’d do it. I know that my dessert consumption has a tendency to get out of control, and not just by sometimes-warped HLB standards, where more than one chocolate chip a day takes away your privilege to ever claim that you #eatclean.
And that’s why I’m once again choosing to give up sweets for Lent. This is not a 40 day diet. This is not a cleanse or detox (neither of which I put much stock in anyway). This is a fast, and there’s a huge difference between a fast and a diet. I fast to benefit my spiritual life, not my physical health. Will giving up dessert for 40 days probably have a positive effect on my health? Probably, but that is not the primary reason for this. When I fasted from dessert for Lent last year, I was consistently aware of Lent, which, as someone who’s been in the church her whole life, can be a bit of a challenge. It is so easy for me to go through the motions of church and faith without any thought because I’ve been doing it for 22 years. Having to say no again and again and again for six and a half weeks kept Lent at the front of my mind for the entire season, and it truly was one of the best spiritual disciplines I’ve ever practiced.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of having the right mindset when it comes to a Lenten fast. If I’m being honest, I truly take offense when people treat a spiritual discipline of Lent lightly or just participate in it because it’s the cool thing to do at the moment. In my mind, if you’re doing it for the wrong reasons–to lose weight, to “clean up” your diet, to legitimize or excuse a disordered pattern of eating–you shouldn’t be doing it at all.
Starting tomorrow, my fast begins. I expect it to be challenging, I expect it to be trying, but most of all, I expect it to reframe my mindset and prepare me for Easter. I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t have those expectations, because this season is not about me losing that winter weight or slimming down for spring. This is about taking my spiritual life and wellness seriously. Period.