I gave up sweets this year for Lent. I am overly dependent on sugary indulgences. When I have a meal, dessert makes it feel complete. When I feel grouchy, chocolate makes me feel better. When my kids take a nap, a treat makes me smile into my aloneness.
I look to sweets for my happiness. Often.
Sweets aren’t bad in and of themselves. But, I am not meant to be dependent upon them for my contentment.
Being one who always looks to solutions for problems, I thought a perfect remedy would be giving them up for Lent.
No chocolate. No candy. No fruit snacks. (Yup, I’ll admit to eating from my kids’ stash of those.) I did, however allow myself to keep putting cream and sugar in my coffee. I don’t understand how people drink it black.
Being one who is an achiever I thought I would have no problem making it to the finish line.
I wanted this denial so that I would pause. Remember. Understand. Sugar may satisfy my sweet tooth, but the only lasting satisfaction comes from Christ alone. He is my source, my contentment, my life.
Thankfully, He is also my wellspring of grace.
Because I failed. In this last week before Easter, I have broken my fast.
I could hold on through giving my kids snacks. I could even hold on through a family trip to the ice cream parlor. But, it turns out what I couldn’t do, was hold on through baking.
It started innocently. I baked a cake for a friend’s birthday. The cake and the frosting, all formed from scratch. I labored over its creation. And so, I could not resist a piece in celebration- of the birthday and the cake itself.
This was, perhaps, an understandable slip. But then, just six days later, I baked cookies with my son. It is an activity we enjoy together, and we wanted to share a batch with his grandpa.
I licked my fingers after mixing, and I was through. Didn’t it make sense to test them when they came out of the oven? And, did it really matter if I had just one with everyone else later? And then, well, it didn’t seem worth resisting anymore.
I decided to give up.
I failed to make it to the finish line. I failed in my Lenten fast.
And I began to wonder, is there God in this? In the failing?
Because here is the risk of my fast: that I make it to Easter Sunday and celebrate me. Celebrate my victory. The strength I had to go without for so many days.
How might the success have clouded my vision of the ultimate victory? How might my eyes have been tempted to look at myself instead of Christ?
And before Sunday is Friday. How will my view of Good Friday be opened now? I realize oh so deeply that I need a Savior. I see that even in the little sacrifices of life, I am weak. I could not have borne the burden that Christ took on my behalf. He has always known I couldn’t do it.
Perhaps now I know it to.
So about this crash, this fast broken, I am not sure how to feel. I confess my failure to God, but also thank Him for it.
For today, I find grace in my failure. And I am grateful.