This past week, the good people of the world celebrated Mardi Gras, followed immediately by Ash Wednesday. Now, for those of you who are unaware, Ash Wednesday ushers in the 40 day period of time known to Catholics and several Protestant denominations as Lent.
As a born and raised Baptist, Lent was not something to which I was accustomed growing up. It's just not one of those traditions that you find many Baptists following, unlike the business meeting and the potluck dinner. But during my senior year of college, I found out that my church back home was challenging its congregation to give something up for Lent.
Now, as I understand it, Lent is a symbollic way to identify with Christ. As Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the desert in preparation for His ministry, so we spend 40 days fasting from something in our own lives in preparation for Easter. And I invite any of my Catholic friends to correct me if I'm wrong. So Lent is the time when we attempt to sacrifice some form of comfort in our lives in order to strengthen our relationship with God.
Each year since that college year, I have toyed with the idea of giving up something for Lent. But I never do. But this year I decided to give it a shot. I chose to eliminate fast food and sodas from my daily life. My reasoning is that I rely way too heavily on fast food and caffeine to make it through my day. Those fast food joints are just so convenient when I need a quick bite to eat. And I really don't need to explain the hold that caffeine has on so many people. It's an addiction. There should really be a 12-step program for it.
We are now three days into Lent. Losing the McDonald's and the Wendy's hasn't been much of a struggle. It's crossed my mind to hit a drive-thru a time or two, but I've resisted. However, the lack of soda has been kickin' my butt.
Here's the thing, when you quit caffeine cold turkey, you get headaches. Now, I'm used to headaches. I get them quite often. I even get migraines every now and again. And usually I take something for them. But I have a thing about taking pills. Here's where you can really start making fun of me.
I hate swallowing pills. I don't think I've ever been able to comfortably do such a thing. So when I have a headache, I'm usually pretty reluctant to take anything. I know it's all mental, but it's a problem. Another problem is that when I do finally break down and take a pain pill, I'm so used to chasing it with a carbonated beverage, that doing it with just water doesn't quite cut it. Ridiculous, right? I told you, it's a mental block.
Despite the fact that it's a psychological issue, it sure feels like a physical one. My throat involuntarily closes up and it feels like I'm choking down the Advil.
Another issue with the lack of caffeine is the early bedtimes. I was in bed asleep by 8:30. That's crazy. Of course I woke up at 4am completely rested... with a headache.
So I made the decision at 4am to stop this no sodas nonsense. I didn't want to. For the last couple days I've been debating whether or not to give up on giving up. I didn't want to quit. I've quit jobs, I've quit schools. Guess I have some kind of fear of commitment.
When I was telling the Greenes last week that I was thinking of doing this stuff for Lent, Nicole said she didn't think I could do it. Really wanted to, just to prove a point. Well guess what Nicole. You were right. For once.
So I'm still going to avoid the fast food places. But I'm back on the caffeinated carbonated beverages. I'll limit myself though. Maybe one drink per day. Just to help stave off those headaches. I don't think God will expel me from Heaven for drinking Coke.