For the past several years I have given up something for Lent.

Now, I grew up in a Missionary Baptist church, and I really don’t know much about Lent, but for some reason a few years ago the notion hit me to start participating. I’ll admit I don’t know much more about it now than I did then, but I still give something up each year for 40 days, which I think represents the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness being tempted by Satan.

I’ve given up sweets in the past. The first time I did it was really a challenge. I’d look at one of Mama’s banana puddings and say, “Step aside Satan, I won’t do it.”

But deep inside I wondered if anyone upstairs would really care if I had a bite, because it looked really good. Though I was tempted, I didn’t have any sweets that year during those 40 days.

For me, this season is about dealing with temptations. My biggest temptation is food. I have what Mama calls “an eating demon.” I’ve always been a big eater.

My husband has told me I am the only girl he has ever seen who can down an entire large pizza by herself. So this year I have given up fast food, because since I’ve been a stay at home mom it’s been a thing of comfort to me, but it’s turned in to a bad habit. If I’m bored we just load up in the car and head to town to whatever drive thru window I’m in the mood for.

This go around has been very hard, since I’ve also decided to give up sweets again and now I’m left with certain emptiness in my belly.

The first day I woke up craving mozzarella sticks and sweet tea from Captain D’s. The next day my mom sent over fudge and I stared longingly at that peanut butter goodness, but I didn’t have any. The third day I felt sick and depressed and I’m pretty sure it’s because I was having withdrawals from my usual diet. The fourth day I got into a little tiff with my husband and the first thing I wanted to do was go get me a mini chicken quesadilla with a Pepsi and top it off with a chocolate chip cookie, but I just had to ride out that annoyance in hunger.

Though I don’t know a lot about Lent, I feel like it’s really a good time to strengthen your self-awareness. It makes you realize you can do without things that bring you joy, and find joy and comfort through other means.

And most importantly, it makes you more aware of the presence of God in your life, because I could easily sneak these foods when no one is around, but it’s impossible to keep secrets from God. By Easter, I’ll have figured out once again that He doesn’t just know how many trips I make to Zaxby’s in a week, but He also knows when I do things that are not good.

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