When I was in elementary school and even middle school, it was fun to decide what I was giving up for lent. Something hard, like junk food? Or listening to my NKOTB tapes? Being mean to my brothers? I usually chose the junk food route, which is maybe ironic because this was when I was skinny as a rail and could eat whatever I wanted. And then I would debate with myself…well, chips and salsa are actually pretty healthy. So are crackers and cheese. And so on. But for all intents and purposes, I stuck to it. And on Holy Saturday I would make myself totally sick with the anticipation of gorging myself on chocolate and jelly beans and peep….mmmm, peeps.
When Hub and I were first married, we had an amazing priest at our local church. He not only preached and gave homilies, but he broke things down for us; explained them in a way so that we could really understand the background of things. This is how we came to know the real meaning of Lent, or at least, the way Hub and I believe in it today. It isn’t really about suffering the way Jesus did…though that is a part of it. It is about taking a look at what is harmful in your life; what is causing you stress or problem, and giving it up. Not just for 40 days and 40 night, but really, for life. And for this reason, we typically do not participate in the whole "Lent" thing.
I find that this is a principle we can put to use, even though we’re not as tied to the church as we once were. My kids don’t even know what lent is. We go to church when we can, but we don’t belong to one anymore. Liv isn’t even baptized much to the dismay of our very catholic family. Still though, Ash Wednesday reminds me of this every year. What is causing me harm right now? What do I need to work on to be a better me?
Coincidentally, Hub got some health news last week. Not news that is putting him on his death bed or anything, but some news that puts him at very high risk for a heart attack and heart disease. His cholesterol is ok, just borderline high, but the good cholesterol is too low, and his triglycerides are through the roof. It is bad enough where the doctor put him on medication right away, rather than allowing him to reduce it naturally with diet first. Still though, it’s time to make modifications. And these are probably modifications we should have made a long time ago. From what I’ve read, a lifestyle that is much lower in carbohydrates than the one we are currently living, is the ticket—something about the bad carbs holding on to the fat cells or something? I don’t know, I’m not a doctor—but I’ve read the pamphlets. We are slowly adopting the term “whole wheat” in to our vocabulary. (I should say that it was always in mine….but Hub? No way!) We are leaving out the crusty French breads, and bagels that we so love. We’re not eating dessert, even though there is a leftover piece of brownie cheesecake in the fridge that is just calling to me as I type this. I’m cooking with way less butter and oil. We are eating lean meat and fish. We’re about a week in, and so far, it is ok. Hub sent me a text yesterday to tell me that he actually really liked wheat bread! And I baked our quesadillas on whole wheat tortillas last night. Actually, I think they were even better than my original fried ones on flour tortillas.
It’s not as if we haven’t known all along that we should be eating better things—and it is not like we will never indulge again, but this was a wakeup call. I’ve been on and off the diet wagon for years, but mostly for vanity’s sake. We have no idea what we’re doing here really, but we’ve identified the problem. We’re doing research and trial and error to see what works. We know what is causing harm right now. And we are setting off on a journey to fix it for good…not just for 40 days.