Creative Writing: Giving up Sweets for Lent

I gave up sweets for Lent this year.

When I was a kid, dessert was a “no-no” during Lent–it’s just the thing you did “for Jesus.” As I grew up, though, and built my own relationship with Jesus, I started to wonder whether Lent was a good thing. I mean, what was the point of giving up something for Jesus? Did it earn me bonus points? Since He gave it all up for me, wasn’t it kind of hypocrite to try to add to my salvation? So I gave up on Lent altogether; it felt too religious to me.

As I grew up, though, and continued to build my own relationship with Jesus, I wondered whether I might have missed something about the whole Lent-thing. It might not be a bad idea, after all, to choose to deny the flesh for forty days, use that time to reflect on His sacrifice, like a kind of a fast. It couldn’t hurt.

So I gave up sweets for Lent this year. it did not feel religious at all.

It truly was a mindset. I thought about sweets every day, right around three pm, that time where a little something sweet would have tasted so good with my afternoon cup of coffee. But I stuck to my plan until Easter dinner when we had carrot cake for dessert.

Carrot cake is my favorite.

I thought about the taste of carrot cake for the last couple of days before Easter. It was going to be yummy.

Easter came around, and someone served me a generous piece of carrot cake with cream cheese icing. I took one bite, and it tasted oh-so-sweet. I had forgotten what sweet feels like. The delight of sweet exploded in my mouth and then filled my belly.

Did I tell you that carrot cake is my favorite?

Image may contain: food

And just as sweet as the carrot cake felt when it entered my mouth after forty days of no sweetness, that is as sweet as my redemption feels to Him after giving up His very life for me.

I am that sweet to Him.

And all of a sudden, I understood the meaning of Lent. And my joy was made full.

I believe in the power of Lent.

Commitment to Self 101

Definition of Commitment

A commitment is simply a pledge to do something.

We make commitments all the time, and most of us follow through all. Your calendar is filled with pledges to see someone or something, or to show up somewhere–the dentist, the bank, a friend for coffee, work.  And unless you are sick, you mostly show up.

Two Components

There are really two components to commitment: (1) the reason why you made that pledge,  and (2) the ramification of not following through.

The ramifications of not following through on keeping your commitment for no particular reason is almost always thinking poorly of yourself.  And that becomes what you teach your brain. Remember the toxic trees growing in there if you don’t watch over your brain carefully?

The ramification of not following through on commitments becomes a nasty self-talk which turns into a habit, and habits run the show.

Ramifications

When you “fail” again, it’s just going to be more proof that you’re a screw-up.

But beating yourself up doesn’t work. If it did, it would have worked by now.

The more negative thoughts you have, the more negative emotion you create, and you cannot create positive actions and positive results through negative thoughts and negative feelings.

But the real ramification of not following up on your commitments is even more than feeling bad about yourself. The real ramification is that this habit of thought becomes more and more entrenched every time you don’t follow through on your commitment.

Changing the Habit

When you are ready to change that nasty habit, you’ll have to decide how you want to go about it. How will you start intervening with the program that is running in your brain right now when it comes to commitment?

You don’t get to just go find the volume knob on your unwillingness to follow through and just turn it
down without any work. The way that you turn it down is by the work of saying no, by teaching your brain that just because you have a desire to not follow through, it must be rewarded.

Commitments to Self

Did you ever notice that your follow-through rate with yourself is much worse than your follow-through rate with other people? Did you ever wonder why that is?

Why is it that you and I find it easier to keep commitments to others than to ourselves?

Either way, we made a plan, right? But for one of them, we think, “I must show up.” For the other set of plans, the ones for ourselves, we think, “my commitment doesn’t really matter.”

Why do we feel it is rude to miss an appointment or show up late to one with someone else, but we don’t consider it rude to do that for ourselves? When we made the plan, it mattered to us or we would not have made it, right?

Could it be because we are more concerned about what they think of actions than what I think of myself? If so, why is that?

Remember, we are always teaching our brains. And our brain is always learning. It is learning how to respond to commitments.

What Commitments to Self Mean:

Commitment to self is about practicing the belief that you matter. You cannot practice teaching your brain that you matter from a place of self-loathing.

Beating yourself up only teaches you to not like yourself.

If you want to have your own back, you need to learn to make good on your commitments to self. This stuff matters.