This is the fifth installment of a series I am doing during Lent, chronicling our experience of eating what we have. If you’re just joining us here, I have included the links for the first four entries as well.
- A Long, Cold Winter, Lent and Spring
- Lent – Eating What We Have
- Lent – Week 2 of Eating What We Have
- Lent – Weeks 3 and 4 of Eating What We Have and Thoughts on Failure
I guess it’s been longer than I realized since I last posted about our Lent experience this year; the last few weeks have been a whirlwind and time flies when you’re not paying attention. It is with both relief and a sense of satisfaction that we come to the end of what felt like an experiment. We are relieved it’s over and that we get to buy fresh fruit and veggies again, while the sense of satisfaction comes in knowing that we made it through something that stretched us and tested us. I want to give credit to my family for being such good sports and doing this with me. They were not negative in the least about this and when they forgot and wanted me to pick something up at the store, I would remind them that “sorry, I can’t buy that right now”, and they would sigh and smile in resignation. It stretched them into getting a bit more creative with snacks and making do with what we had on hand.
I want to be clear that this was never about trying to become a better Christian or a more holy person, or even as way to repay Jesus for His work on the cross – nothing can ever repay that. This was simply a season of dying a little bit to myself and to what I wanted, hopefully becoming a more intentional and disciplined person in the process. In a sense, it was a time of fasting, a moment of shrinking in order to grow, stretching beyond what I thought was possible. I want to have learned lessons that will go with me the rest of my life.
I’ve shared in earlier pieces how I’ve come to understand myself a bit more, especially as pertains to fears of failure and success, the fear of not being enough, and to my bent toward perfectionism. There is another bit that I suppose I should address and that is the desire to be self-sufficient. I think most of us can identify with this desire to some degree or another. We don’t want to be dependent on others; we want to show that we have our act together and that we can do this. For me, it goes right along with not wanting to be vulnerable and allowing others see the deep needs in my life. Ultimately, it is, of course, not being content with the sufficiency of God in my life. It is that age-old nature rising up in us that wants to prove something to God, and it wants to prove something to my neighbor and it wants to make me believe that maybe, just maybe we don’t need others to help us in our pilgrimage through life.
When one of the children asked me the second week into this, “What if we ran completely out of food?”, I put the question back to her. I wondered, “What would YOU do if you were out of food, you couldn’t get to town, or you had no money to buy any?” She thought for a minute and finally admitted she didn’t know what she would do, although eventually she thought maybe she could see if she could find extended family to help her. I just smiled a secret smile, because I was hoping that’s what she would say – that she would seek help from her neighbors. That conversation gave me pause, because I saw myself in that situation, being slow to ask for help from those around me. I hope I’m becoming more okay with this, but I know it’s something that does not come naturally for me, as I suppose is true for most of us. Of course, where we want to end up is asking God for help, but I do think there is something about community that has been lost, where we hardly know our neighbors and borrowing a cup of flour or a couple of eggs is a thing of the distant past. We so easily simply run into town when we realize we’re out of something, rather than bother the neighbor up the road. But anyway, it got me to thinking about how independent we’ve become and how that might not be the best thing for us. I wonder how much our independence from others affects our dependency on God. Does the way we interact with our neighbors mirror our relationship with God?
The result of eating what we had for forty days has been that we’ve used up a bunch of things in our pantry and freezer, but it’s also touched other parts of our household. I’ve used up odds and ends of laundry soap, tubes of toothpaste that I would rather have thrown away (although I did have the option of buying household items during this time), bars and bottles of soap, even cleaning supplies. It’s given me motivation to be more organized and more intentional. And if I don’t need it, I don’t want to buy it. I’ve always been more of a “make do with what we have” than some in my house, and in some ways this has heightened that commitment, but in other ways it has helped me let go of more things. It’s a weird paradox and I won’t pretend to understand it. It’s been interesting to see what this experience has unfolded and continues to teach us.
One of the habits I want to take from this time is to continue to be more intentional about using up what we have, especially when it comes to leftovers, cutting down on waste and how much food gets put in the garbage because it turned bad in the refrigerator. I know I get carried away in the produce section when I shop for groceries, because everything just looks so good and I have grand thoughts about how I’m going to use all this, but the sad truth is that often some of it spoils before I get it used. I need to be more realistic about how much I can use and how soon I will be able to use it. I want to continue to use from what is still a full freezer and only a slightly less-full pantry, so I am limiting myself to buying only a few things to complement what is already here and changing the way I shop for groceries and the way I cook our meals.
I think the biggest lesson I will take from this is a deeper sense of trusting God with every part of my life. Trusting Him to be enough for me, trusting Him to help me face my fears (quite an accidental thing I realized I was doing through this process), trusting Him to provide for our needs, trusting Him with my perceived failures (which may be the road to success, in disguise), and trusting Him with the road He has me on. I want to trust Him with everything, no matter what. That doesn’t mean I’m not freaked out sometimes, it just means that even in my fears and no matter the outcome, I can trust the process and that He is and will be Faithful, always.
Thank you to all who joined us in our Lenten experiment – it was encouraging to know we had friends cheering us on. Another reminder that community is so important!
Here are a few of the our favorite recipes we’ve enjoyed or discovered during the last six weeks. Bon Appétit!