Lenten Pitfall #3 – Getting Discouraged and Giving Up

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When temptation comes, I give right in!

We are not quite halfway through Lent. How is it going? Have you been able to maintain your Lenten commitments?

Last Wednesday morning I posted that I had given up sweets for Lent. At noon I attended a luncheon meeting. Sitting in front of me in all its delicious splendor was a large chocolate chip cookie, one the mass of four regular sized cookies. I slipped it back into the box lunch, trying to avoid eye contact with the temptress as others around me munched on their cookies. Finally I slipped my hand into the box and broke off a piece. What would a small bite hurt, I told myself, then proceeded to eat half the cookie. I took the remainder home with the intent of giving it to my husband only to eat it myself later that day. So much for good intentions.

This morning, as I poured my morning coffee, a shamrock shaped sugar cookie replete with green frosting, stared at me from the counter where it had been enticing me since brought home from the Irish dinner concert I had attended on Saturday. Certainly it would be the perfect complement to my bitter dark brew. It wasn’t really a dessert, more like a having a breakfast granola bar I rationalized as I bit in. It was delicious.

Maybe I should just admit that I have no will power and give up, I thought. Then I picked up the latest Nutrition Action and read the cover article on food marketing – “What made you buy (and eat) that.” The questions asked were enlightening: “Does decision-making wear us down as we shop? What’s the evidence that we get worn down? Does our self-control also get worn down?” The article related studies that showed we have limited amounts of mental and emotional energy available to us. If we use that up on one situation, we have less available for another one and so give up more easily when put to the test.

I had written last week how as a child I seemed to have more will power when it came to giving up sweets for Lent. No wonder. While childhood wasn’t exactly a blissful ride of sugar and butterflies, it didn’t hold the stress that adult life has.

I was definitely worn down after dealing with some difficult situations. I had no energy left to resist temptation so when temptation came, I gave right in. Who can prevail when sugar coated enticements are everywhere?

And so I’m left where I began, with no option but to call upon God for help. I can’t do it on my own. I could give up, admit that I am weak, or I can ask God to help me do better. Fortunately for us, God is willing to give us another chance. Our God is a God  of second chances. He forgives not just seven times, but seventy times seven, meaning his capacity for forgiveness is infinite.

So, if you haven’t been doing too well with your Lenten promises, pick yourself up and try again. Discouragement is the devil’s friend. Don’t give in.

How have you been doing? I would love to hear from you.

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