“Is pizza white?”
I received this question by e-mail from Suzy yesterday. You guessed it, Suzy is giving up everything white to eat for Lent. We have also had discussions already about whether white wine is really more yellow than white. Temptations come in many forms and in reality are usually not that wicked. In fact, some of the things we used to think were not good for us turn out to be healthy in moderation – red wine, chocolate, coffee, etc. Needless shopping or overspending pose more significant threats to us than most foods, but the economists are begging us to spend once again. The answer may be found in balance, and is why when Augustine said that perfect moderation is more difficult than abstinence, it struck a chord.
Perhaps we try to give up something for Lent, because we recognize that a temptation has become something more. Something, whatever it is, has control and is, or is becoming, a problem. What do we do? We first acknowledge it, a good way is by committing to do something about the temptation during Lent. Even if we don’t succeed in keeping our Lent we will have acknowledged it. Second, we pray. Prayer is paramount because we are offering our weakness to God, and we can then lean on him to help us stay balanced as we struggle.
I would add a third. During the Lenten season, don’t lose your sense of humor or your perspective. Maybe giving up chocolate for 40 days can be a practice run for a temptation or weakness that needs addressing full time. However it may be the only temptation you could think of at the moment. It’s okay. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Again, we tend to be our own worst critics so lighten up on your own frailty. God doesn’t give you a burden you can’t carry, don’t give yourself a load you can’t tote.