Mario, my husband, loves meat. He would happily eat it for all three meals a day in disturbing quantities. He loves living in northern Mexico, where the "nortenitos" are famous for sitting by a grill, beer in hand, consuming vast quantities of charred cow for hours at a time. Whenever Mario finds himself at a parrillada, he finds that he has to quit far too early. Despite being a rancher's grandson, he just isn't able to ingest quite as much beef as a true norteno.
I, however, could happily be a vegetarian if it weren't for tacos, Thanksgiving turkey and barbecued ribs. Therefore, the custom of giving up meat for Fridays in Lent is really just wasted on me. In fact, when we were dating, Mario suggested that would be more of a sacrifice for me to eat meat on Fridays during Lent than to abstain from it. Good point.
So I do try to cut decadence from my diet on Fridays (no alcohol, gooey desserts, etc). When a huge chocolate craving strikes, it's just a reminder that Jill does not live on chocolate alone. And that's what the whole "giving up something for Lent" is all about, right? After all, God doesn't really care whether we give up something or not. It doesn't benefit God in any way. But if doing so helps me grow, that's great. Like any parent, I'm sure God likes it when I grow. So that's really just my intent.
However, last week I went to a baby shower. It was one of the most fabulous, over-the-top events I've been to in a long time. We were each asked to bring food to share, and there had to be at least 30 women there. Spinach artichoke dip, pumpernickel bread, blueberries, blackberries, deviled eggs, cupcakes, peanut butter chocolate chip cookies--these women outdid themselves. It was delicious.
And I totally forgot that it was Friday.
Now, as I mentioned before, I don't really think that God cares whether I pig out at a baby shower held on a Friday during Lent. However, I knew that I failed myself. But as soon as I thought that, I could hear that little voice of God in my head say, "that's OK. It's all forgiven."
And that really IS the point, isn't it?
Sure, overeating isn't really a bit deal. There are far worse things I could do and have done. But it's all forgiven. Like my pastor said a few weeks ago, Lent should be a time of joy and celebration, not a sad, mournful time. During Lent we tend to get all hung up in the whole "I'm not worthy" attitude, completely forgetting the fact that Good Friday and Easter happened just because God said, "yes, you ARE worthy. I made you worthy." It's during this season that we can better reflect on the mercy and forgiveness demonstrated once and forever on Good Friday and Easter. Isn't that the best thing ever? If that doesn't make you happy, what can?
So thanks, God.