Lent annoys me, it always has.
My knee-jerk reaction to anything "must" is to avoid it and not comply. That's my own personal problem, it's related to pride and obedience, I get that.
So anyway, this year, having a much better grip on my Catholic faith, I started out thinking that I would do the minimum requirements just as a sign of obedience, hoping something good would come of it, which will then lead me to further ideas of how to take up my own cross.
On Ash Wednesday, I woke up all committed to fasting as prescribed by the Church, as well as getting off sugar and grain. I admit the sugar and grain thing is a health initiative, not something I'm doing to get closer to Christ, but figured it was just as well to begin on that day and commit it to God.
Problem one is that I never consciously committed it to God.
Problem two is that combining fasting on the same day as going cold turkey on carbs was a really bad idea from a purely physical perspective.
Did you read this amazing blog entry by Elizabeth Esther about how she recognized that she needed to stop punishing herself on Ash Wednesday? If you haven't, please do, because it's just honestly refreshing. I can relate to what she wrote because here's how Ash Wednesday started to shape up at our house, around 7:00 p.m.:
Husband: Meekly inquiring about what's for dinner
Me: There's a bag of parmesan-crusted tilapia in the freezer, you can make that if you want.
Me: Starving, crabby, feeling like I'm going to lose it if I don't eat real food.
Husband: Does that mean you don't want any? What are you going to eat?
Me: (Starting to lose it) I'm not supposed to eat that tilapia because it has breading made out of wheat. That's why I didn't get Fish McBites at McDonald's when I took Alan there for lunch.
Husband: What are you going to eat?
Me: (Screaming) I don't know!!! I f*cking HATE fish!!!!! I f*cking, f*cking, f*cking hate fish!!!! (Actually, I don't hate fish. I just dislike most of it. I need it to be expensive and fancy for me to truly appreciate it.)
Husband: (Looking like a deer in the headlights) Maybe you should just eat something.
Me: Yeah, I think I will. Screw this Ash Wednesday stuff. (I ate a bunch of food, I don't remember what. I'm sure it included meat.)
So, let's jump over to this past week, when our family took advantage of a "Spring Break" at Alan's school to go to a waterpark overnight, Thursday to Friday.
Me: This is going to be impossible to stay low-carb while visiting a cess pool of pizza, french fries, and frozen margaritas.
Husband: Stay strong, we'll do whatever it takes to get you the food you need.
Thursday lunch: Bought a container of tuna salad and brought it into the waterpark. Celebrate! Tuna salad and water slides! Woo-hoo.
Thursday dinner: Big-ass prime rib and vegetables. Score!
Friday morning: Free breakfast buffet included with waterpark package. Eggs, eggs, and more eggs, along with bacon, sausages, and ham.
Friday lunch: Cool! Waterpark has pre-packaged containers of cheese, sausage, and olives! Someone is thinking outside the box here. I got a low-carb friendly lunch!
Me: (Friday afternoon while eating cheese and sausage) F*ck!!!! It's Friday!!!!
Have you ever done something like this? Or this:
On Sunday we were in a food market and stumbled across a whole, live lobster dinner for $13.95. I was like, HELL-O it's lobster time! As I sat at a metal counter eating my fresh, delicious lobster, I told my husband this was my replacement meat-free meal to make up for the previous week's meat transgressions. Truth be told, I've done this way more times that I care to admit. You know, you're invited to a family get-together or party on a Friday in Lent, and all that's being served is meat, so you eat the meat and then say tomorrow for dinner I'll have fish to even it all out.
But this where it all stands so far. I've given up nothing for Lent in the traditional sense. (Or have I? Let me know your thoughts on that.) I'm supposed to go on a silent retreat next weekend, but I'm not sure that's really when it's supposed to happen, and I haven't made the phone call to confirm it.
Furthermore, the thought of doing Stations of the Cross depresses me. Like I said previously on the blog, if we get to one session of the Stations, I'll be thinking I won a prize or something.
Also, I haven't taken anything on, which is my usual train of thought. You know, extra masses, extra confession, extra readings, extra something. Not inspired to do anything, and yet, feeling really guilty about all of it.
And when I feel guilt, I know things aren't going well.
I do keep turning certain things around in my head that I could do for Lent, so as not to make it a total loss. But then I find an excuse to not want to do it. Then I get upset about how lazy I am and get mired in the wallowing about how much I suck as a human being. About how I'm only giving God the tiniest of crumbs.
When I get myself really going, I turn the blame back at the Church, believing this is all a prescribed set-up. I mean, people can do things like extra prayer and fasting, etc., any time of the year they want and get results, right? Why does there HAVE to be this big to-do the same time of each year?
Other times, I tell myself this is all symptomatic of my ongoing refusal to believe that God really loves me, thereby proving that I need to do whatever it takes to grasp and hold God's love. And if that means eating meat, well, then so be it.
I know I'm writing this blog post because I don't want to write another blog post titled "Continued Sucky Lent." So, along those lines, do you ever experience similar battles during Lent? What do you do to get yourself out of the funk? And how do you deal with guilt?