Lent is here, so you are probably giving up chocolate. Or coffee, wine, beer, or sugar. That’s what we do, and even that seems like a decent penance, right?
If you are like me, Ash Wednesday is the day when you realize that you are such a wimp that even a reasonable fast is enough to put you in an irritable mood. The fact is, to my dismay, far beyond my love of sugar (which is profound), I have to come realize that I love my comfort and my convenience.
I like my showers hot. I like my drinking water cold. I like meetings to be short and to the point. I like the soft recliner and not the hard dining-room chairs. I like to eat as soon as I am hungry. I want my food to be delicious and maybe to include some semi-gourmet flavors like pancetta or goat cheese. I like my bed to sleep in. I want my shoes to be not just functional, but also fashionable.
I want my time alone. I want my time with friends. I like my home neat (not that I get it). I like to use the drive-through at the bank so that I don’t have to get out of the car. I like silence. If I can’t have silence, then I want to choose the music. I like plenty of light when I’m awake and darkness when I’m asleep. I like having a car to get me from point A to point B. I like a hot drink in the morning. I want not to be simply clothed but also to feel good in my clothes.
Conversely, I will complain (at least inwardly) when I’m the least bit too hot, when I’m too cold, when I didn’t sleep well, when any part of my body aches, when my food is blah, when my clothes no longer fit right, when I don’t get time to myself, when I’m not understood, when I have to do something I don’t want to do, when I had to listen to the kids bicker more than usual, and when I have to make an extra trip up the stairs.
So this Lent, I want to go farther than only giving up coffee or chocolate. I want to mortify my over-accommodation to my comfort and convenience. What this looks like exactly may change from day to day. One day I might drive with the window down. Or I might sleep on the floor. I could eat more of the food I do not like and take less of the food I do like. I could forgo seconds. I could eat the leftovers that I shove to the back of the fridge. I could go get whatever I need upstairs instead of sending a child to fetch it for me.
Maybe I’ll do school all day in the hard dining-room chairs. Maybe I will park far out in the parking lot. Maybe I’ll walk to a friend’s house instead of driving. Maybe I’ll skip the automatic teller at the bank and go inside to talk with a real person. Maybe I’ll take a lukewarm shower. Maybe I will set my alarm for 3 AM and awaken to pray for a few minutes before going back to sleep.
At the very least, I will try to notice the countless ways in which I slavishly serve my own comfort and convenience and attempt instead to accept whatever discomfort or inconvenience comes my way without complaint.[tweet “Why go to the trouble of denying ourselves comforts during #Lent?]
Why go to this trouble? Because being both spiritual and material beings, mortifying my flesh has a concurrent effect on my soul. The daily penance trains my body away from seeking material comfort and trains my soul to seek God. Refusing to cater to the body’s every preference and appetite is the way to overthrow the tyranny of the flesh.
So will you kindly pray for me? This Lent is. going. to. hurt.
Copyright 2018 Amanda Woodiel