You may be wondering how it's going so far? I am happy to report that I have not consumed any chocolate. I use the word consumed because I quickly discovered that I need to have a thoroughly specified description of what my fast includes. For example, if I said "I won't eat chocolate for Lent", does that mean I can drink it? If that seems like a technicality to you, you're right, but it gets worse.
Lent began, of course, on Wednesday. By Friday evening the following conversations with myself were going on in my head-
About 20 minutes later:
I want something sweet. Hey, I wonder if white chocolate counts. Funny Debbie, of course it counts. Nice try though.
I'd really like some ice cream. No chocolate, remember! And what's ice cream without hot fudge. Well, there is that diet chocolate flavored glop I bought. It wasn't too bad and it isn't really chocolate. I mean, there are no calories in it - not real food products at all most likely, just some weird combination of chemicals that comes out tasting somewhat like chocolate with a kind of pudding consistency. I think that still counts. It is flavored with chocolate after all. No, no, I don't think so. I think it is "chocolate flavored" not flavored with chocolate - chocolate is not mentioned in the ingredients. Don't you think you're splitting hairs here? Fine! I won't eat any - but I still don't think it really counts.
About an hour later:
I wonder if those carob covered pretzels would count? Are you serious? They aren't chocolate! Do they taste like chocolate? Do they smell like chocolate? Kind of, yes. Then they count. Seriously, it hasn't even been three days. I know, I'm pathetic.
I've been told that giving up something for Lent is so that when we "miss" that thing it will remind us to think of spiritual things. I've also been told it is a sacrifice we make to acknowledge the sacrifice Jesus made for us. Either way, it has been a learning experience for me already. I feel appropriately convicted of my own weakness and shiftiness. In less than 72 hours I was trying to get out of it, or get around it. I was trying to justify what I knew was wrong and rationalize how I wanted to get around doing the right thing. I wasn't really bargaining with myself. I was trying to bargain with God. It is too often how I, and probably you, have started down a slippery slope of sin. "I didn't lie, I just didn't tell the whole truth." "I wasn't coveting that, I was just admiring it." "What can just thinking about it/watching it/listening to it hurt?"
The good news - I'm pretty sure Jesus just laughed - He knows how I am. He also knows I'm getting a tiny bit better than before at doing the right thing. After all, we are all tempted - and temptation isn't sin. I didn't end up eating chocolate - or the carob - or the glop. But, don't be proud of me - I'm not. I know I still have 35+ days left.