The first week of Lent is finished, and I am happy to report that it was largely a success. My girls and I accomplished all of our goals and stayed faithful to the promises we made. We supported each other in our different struggles and came away from it closer than ever. That’s the good news.
The bad news is, Saturday sucked – like, a lot – and it was all my fault. I was awful. I was moody, depressed, and overwhelmed with every little thing my girls did or didn’t do. I went to bed that night exhausted and on the verge of a significant identity crisis. I was so distracted that I forgot to set my alarm and overslept for church the next morning.
Want to know what fueled this horrible, no good, very bad day?
I gave up sugar.
To be precise, I gave up white carbs (as per the 4-Hour Body prescription) because I know what a stumbling block empty foods are for me. I use them to distract, divert, and procrastinate, and I always feel terrible later. Since I am focusing on Hebrews 12:1 this Lent, casting off complex burdens with food seemed the obvious choice.
The initial results were devilishly easy on the physical side. I have given up soda, junk food, and even this range of carbs before, each invariably resulting in at least one day of detox: migraines, fatigue, nausea, the whole bit. This time, nothing. My body felt fine – even good – the whole week.
Then there was Saturday.
I have to say it scared me a little bit and here’s why: What if I’m not the nice girl I have always thought I am?
My whole life, the words that people have used to describe me have always been along the lines of friendly, optimistic, helpful, sweet… What if it turns out that I’ve just been hopped up on sugar for thirty years? What if my soft, gooey center is vinegar instead of jam?
Turning to research for answers, I noted with dismay that identity crises go hand-in-hand with addiction. Some addicts become addicted because of an identity crisis; others experience the identity crisis as a phase of recovery from the addiction. The luckiest of all turn to addiction for relief from the identity crisis, then face a new identity crisis later during rehabilitation – a cyclical loop of uncertainty.
It will take some time for me to dig up my root causes, and I won’t bore you with my soul-searching here. Suffice it to say that a new project as I press on through Lent is going to be reviewing who God says I am, meditating on my identity in Him rather than in human eyes. I thought I already knew this. Clearly, I have overestimated my depth of understanding.
Coincidentally enough (if you believe in such things), I just happened to see Flight this weekend in my race to be fully informed before the Oscars, and this struggle is brilliantly portrayed therein by Denzel Washington. The question of “Who am I?” is a recurring theme in his life and the life of others who struggle around him through the story. It’s not a pretty picture, to be sure, but I am encouraged knowing that I’m not the only person to wrestle with such seemingly elementary issues.
Today, I am thanking God for movies, long baths, my family’s gracious patience, and especially Sundays!