I forgot that my birthday always falls during Lent, and I always had a chocolate cake for my birthday. Sigh. I stuck with my commitment, though, even when my mother baked a chocolate birthday cake for me. I froze my slice and enjoyed it after Easter Sunday that year.
As a 20-something I tried giving up chocolate for Lent a second time. Again, I stuck to my commitment, but I remember the first thing I did after returning from the Easter Vigil was to gobble up some Easter chocolates that had been taunting me. Clearly I have chocolate issues. In both these instances, my focus was on chocolate deprivation and not on my relationship with God.
In the last few years I’ve become a big fan of skinny mochas. It’s become a regular habit, stopping at my neighborhood Starbucks on the drive into work. Nearly every day. Yes, I know. Do the math.
Last year I decided that during Lent I’d give up my daily skinny mocha and go two steps further. I would donate the money that otherwise would have gone to Starbucks to two local agencies that work with single moms in need. And I would make two baby quilts during Lent that I would donate, one to each of those two agencies.
I had a plan. I would deny myself something so that I could more fully focus on righting my relationship with God. And one of the ways I would do that would be donating money and quilts to agencies that support single moms in need.
I managed that first step. I successfully gave up mochas during Lent (except one stressful day). But I never got around to starting a baby quilt or donating the money equivalent of all those skinny mochas. I thought about both a few times as the year progressed, but never got around to making them happen.
Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux (1091-1153), is quoted as saying “Hell is full of good intentions or desires.” And if we think of “hell” as being estranged from God, then yes, there are lots of good intentions within and among us, even as we try to right our relationship with God during Lent.
So, for Lent in 2016, I’m going to give it another try. (Isn’t grace amazing?) I’m going to give up a daily skinny mocha. [Tweet this.] I’m going to donate the money to two local agencies supporting single moms. I’m going to make two quilts for the agencies, and I’ll use that sewing time as prayer time. In doing this, I hope to realign my relationship with God.
I’m counting on you to be my accountability partners. If you’d like to share a cup of home-brewed tea and sew on those quilts with me, let me know.
Linda Post Bushkofsky is executive director of Women of the ELCA.
Photo by Ceressa Batemen, used with permission, Creative Commons
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