This year I gave up two things for Lent: playing solitaire on my phone and getting food out of a snack machine at work.
Maybe I should say I am fasting from them, a term my minister used in his sermon this past Sunday to refer to anything given up in order to prepare ourselves for self-examination and the sacrifice of Jesus.
I am fasting from solitaire because I have days when I spend way too much time playing it. It’s like a nervous habit. When I don’t want to do anything else, or when I’m stressed, I grab the phone and start fiddling with the electronic cards.
I am fasting from the snack machine because I do too much mindless eating at work, out of stress and sometimes boredom. It’s easy to stick my dollar or coins in the machine and have instant “food comfort.” But I’m eating when I’m not hungry, and I’m turning to food rather than more healthy choices to cope with life.
Giving up the snack machine has been the easier of the two. I can always take the time to fix healthier food choices at home to eat at work, and I am trying to eat only when I’m hungry.
It has been more difficult with the phone. I’m not having trouble resisting the call of solitaire. I’m having a difficult time knowing what to do with myself without the game.
My plan was to spend the time with more useful and meaningful pursuits, like reading and writing, or, if I’m at work, with work.
That’s hard for me when I’m tired and feel anxious and I just want to avoid doing anything that takes effort.
During Sunday’s sermon, my minister talked about giving things up for Lent. He said something like, if you’re fasting from food but not praying, then it’s just a holy diet.
Therein lies my problem.
Should I be praying during at least part of the time that I could be playing solitaire? What do I do since I have such a hard time praying, and I haven’t really prayed much since I realized how compulsive I still am with the process?
I’ve written about the obsessions and compulsions I have about praying. I’m working to no longer attend to the compulsive prayer thoughts. How do I bring in real prayer?
That’s my quandary. What other ways can I reach out to the divine?
Meditation is one way, but I’m still at the 10-minutes-at-a-time stage.
I’ve tried prayers that someone else wrote, like the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. Sometimes I still get lost in the words, though.
I’ve considered writing prayers.
I still think reading and writing are meaningful and have a place in my Lent practice. Prayer is not the only way to learn and grow.
But I want to do some kind of praying too.
Do you have any ideas or suggestions?