I gave up all grains, processed sugars, and meat for Lent. I’m Southern, so that basically means that I gave up food. (Y’all have seen the Pioneer Woman cook. Can I get a “Bless your heart” from the Southern girls who are feeling my pain?) I have an unhealthy relationship with eating. Anything sweet, baked, fried, or savory calls out to me. I eat when I’m hungry. I eat when I’m not hungry. I dream about food while I’m in Mass. I’m an addict. Plain and simple.
Last week, I opened up to an acquaintance about my Lenten fast. She had given up coffee, and asked what I was sacrificing. When I said, “Grain, sugar, and meat,” she giggled, crinkled her nose, and asked why. I told her simply that I was a food addict struggling to learn to control my addiction.
She laughed and shook her head and told me, “You just have to stop eating. I mean…I completely forget to eat. I can go the whole day and then realize I haven’t eaten anything all day. Food isn’t a real addiction. You just have to tell yourself to eat less.”
I made a mental note of why she’s an acquaintance and not a friend, and changed the subject. I know where she’s coming from, because I used to be her. Seven children and six dress sizes back, I was the person who forgot to eat and couldn’t imagine the struggle of someone who couldn’t think of anything else.
The thing was, it wasn’t really about food. It wasn’t even about addiction or compulsive behavior. It was about the size of my cross. I’d turned to a sister in Christ and told her of the burden I was carrying, and she laughed at it and called it silly.
We are called to be Simon for each other, to lighten what our brothers and sisters are dragging around, but too often we do exactly the opposite. We add our scorn, laughter, and judgement to their already burdened shoulders.
For the last days of this Lent, I’m going to give up judging someone else’s cross. I’m going to stop thinking how much easier someone else has it than I do, and I’m going to refocus my gaze on how I can help.
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