In the complete darkness, I snoozed beautifully. Then I realized my old green toile apron held a bazillion doodads in its pockets. Now I never stay home without it.
The step from convenience to comfort is small, but the drop to self-indulgence is long, even for parents, who ruefully remember how easy life was in the years BC (Before Children).
“Why don’t horror movies scare you?” my oldest son just asked.
“Because the devil is too smart to resemble a B-movie monster. He’s more likely to be a drive-through window.”
When I counted how often I indulge myself or work toward convenience, I didn’t like the results. I decided to give up junk food for Lent, the 40 days in which Christians prepare for Easter. I also fast every Tuesday.
Disclaimers: I passed a full physical. Fasting is an unhealthy diet, and the Gospel of Matthew advocates nobody know you’re fasting. I hope readers recognize I’m not fasting for self-aggrandizement.
Moreover, fasting isn’t a very Lutheran idea. Lutherans do give up for Lent, but they’re likely to take on, too—say, volunteering to walk dogs at an animal shelter.
My problem is that I take on too much: Should I teach the kids French? Oui! Enroll them in soccer? Bien sûr!
Besides, fasting is a fitting way to atone for every time I’ve shoved food in my mouth without concern for people who are hungry, even in Schererville. Discomfort? A reminder of Christ’s much-worse suffering on the cross.
The first day I fasted was Ash Wednesday. By evening, I was a little lightheaded, but my stomach didn’t growl. If I distract myself while I run, time compresses. Likewise, I decided that, once I make up my mind, I ignore negatives that occur while I’m achieving the expected.
The next day, I realized if I could endure those 30 hungry hours, I could conquer other challenges that, reconsidered, are merely a matter of willpower.
Our society often equates success with luxury or ease, but my readers probably live better than the multimillionaires of 1890–air conditioning and aspirin, anyone? Most Americans thus are successful, but unless they’re inventors, the success was someone else’s.
If your idea of success is buying stuff or getting comfortable, you’re thinking small.
You don’t need to be religious to conduct spiritual warfare: You are the final frontier. You should solve big problems. Achieve what you consider impossible. Help people you consider beyond your help. If you’ve got big problems, that’s part of being human, so parents, you’re good.
Whether or not you observe Lent, start solving a big problem now. Then you can truly celebrate when spring blooms.