We are one week into the 2012 Lenten season, and I’m already beginning to wonder what I was thinking when I promised to give up sweets for the next several weeks until Easter Sunday. Now, anyone who knows me knows good and well how difficult of a time this will be. I even had some of my good friends ask me to reconsider this insanity that I spoke of. But alas, I stood firm on my word. I mean, if Jesus could fast for forty days and forty nights, the least I could do is fast from all things that make my mouth break out into a happy dance –cookies, brownies, ice cream, cake, cupcakes, doughnuts– for forty-six days (not that I’m counting or anything).
Before I committed to the fast, I placed an order for some delicious Girl Scout cookies. In the weeks before Lent I had visions of Samoas, Thin Mints, Tagalongs and Trefoils dancing in my head. As if a part of some mean spirited prank, temptation knocked on my door on Ash Wednesday with my delicious delivery. My first thought was: “Is it too late to change what I want to give up?” and then “This is going to be the longest season of lent I’ve ever experienced”. But once I got over the initial shock (or two), and remembered why I was doing it, I began to feel good about my decision and looked forward to giving my willpower a good “workout”, as my Pastor, Fr. Pat put it last week. He related it to when you start working out muscles: If you’ve never worked out before, or just haven’t used those particular muscles in a long time, it can be painful in the beginning. And sometimes, it may even make you want to throw in the towel. But once you’ve worked out those muscles regularly, it becomes easier and less painful. Well, your willpower needs the same type of workout. This first week made me realize just how much exercise my willpower had been lacking over the years.
This newest commitment also got me thinking about what other weaknesses I had become a slave to. As much as I would like to blame all of my sweet cravings on my postpartum hormones, I realized that I needed to take some responsibility. I mean, I guess I don’t need to bake brownies, cupcakes and cakes every chance I get…or have two and three servings when I do. I also don’t have to buy something from the bakery department every time I go to the grocery store (at least, that’s what I will keep telling myself).
In this past week, I realized there are other areas of my life that could use a little willpower workout. Whether it’s an affinity to sweets, shopping, reality television, or social media, there comes a time where we all have to face our weaknesses in order to become a stronger, better person. When you learn to exercise your willpower on a regular basis, you no longer become a slave to your weakness. So as painful as it is, I will continue my workout for the next several weeks, and look forward to flexing my new, stronger willpower muscles.
What weaknesses have you become a slave to? How can you begin to work out in order to build stronger willpower muscles?