Ash Wednesday and Pepsi by Sahmatwork

SahmatworkToday, we welcome “Sahmatwork”, a new columnist who will contribute here at CatholicMom.com on a bi-monthly basis.  Be sure to check out her blog at www.familysentinel.blogspot.com for more great writing and inspirtation!

Let’s rewind to last year’s Lent. I was determined to give up my favorite beverage of all time….Fountain Pepsi. Not just Pepsi, mind you, Fountain Pepsi, those super sweet Pepsi drinks from a Taco Bell or a gas station. Trust me, I could tell if it was from a can or the real deal, fountain. I took on this challenge in the hopes to kick the habit, which I can fully admit now, was a slight addiction on my part, making me a slave to the cravings.

I’d get through my morning, making up excuses of why we just HAD to run that errand right next to the Taco Bell. I’d make a stop after school pick up, just to taste that sweet, caffeinated syrup. It was bad. It was a craving, unlike I’d ever had pregnant. I longed for this beverage in a way that clearly wasn’t healthy, and it became my ‘drug’ of choice. And just like all drugs, I became a slave to it.

Without it, I wasn’t myself. I was cranky, irritable and miserable, and I let others know it. At times, I could tell the day just wasn’t right because of my lack of Pepsi, and would actually beg my husband to stop and pick one up before coming home. I admit, my joy when he walked through the door, wasn’t seeing him, it was seeing that extra large fountain Pepsi brimming with ice that had my heart pitter pattering.

How sad.

I thank God, that He allowed me to see this addiction as something hindering me and in His way, showed me that Lent was the optimal time to give up this favorite drink of mine.

Let me tell you, last years Lent, was the toughest yet. The first three days were the hardest I’ve ever experienced. You know, trying to set the example for my kids to not complain while sacrificing was probably the worst for me. I had to be happy, and deal with my frustrations in a mature way, offering up my sacrifice as I always told the kids to do.

It took the first two weeks, I believe to actually get past the physical cravings, including the dreaded caffeine headaches. Then, something else happened, I had to get over the mental need for it, and that took another week. I had to shape my behavior, not making up excuses to run errands, not making that stop at the gas station. I found I had more time, more flexibility because I gave up this nasty habit. In the course of these three weeks, I had actually freed myself from this ‘bondage’ I had entangled myself in!

Easter, last year, indeed did include a big fat Fountain Pepsi, crisp ice, and a long straw for my day long enjoyment. Wouldn’t it figure, it was so sweet, tasted like a thick syrup, that I took two sips and threw the rest out. How in the world was I able to drink this like an addict just 40 days ago?

Yesterday and today, I relived last years Lent, and the lesson I gained from that whole experience. Pepsi for me hindered me. It enslaved my emotions, my feelings, my state of mind, my behavior and my daily schedule. It enslaved ME! How I loathed this drink after kicking this habit. How dare it control me in this way! I am a free person!

I share this in an attempt to explain the whys of Lent sacrifices. It can be tough, especially if the sacrifice requires a strengthening of willpower! How often are we enslaved by some ‘thing’ in our lives. Perhaps it’s that Starbuck’s frappuccino, or it’s updating the Facebook page, or it’s that sugar we absolutely must have on our breakfast cereal. Are there things in your life that living without hinder your mood? Are there needless things in your life that dictate your daily schedule? The options are endless…..

The point here should be obvious. God made us free. God gave us a free will. When we allow these things in our lives to enslave us, our will is weak. This is the crux of the matter, our will must be iron clad, that when we hear God calling us in a particular direction, we will be able to serve Him, as He needs, and not fear failure, because each Lent we shrug off the shackles of our bad habits, and see success. We see we are free. We are free to choose Him, and no Pepsi run would be able to stand in the way of making that free choice.

Lenten sacrifice, is in a sense, a measure of our willpower, a moment in time, albeit 40 days, which allows us to look inward, and see how strong IS our strength of will.

Copyright 2010 Sahmatwork

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