Six weeks ago I decided to give up bingo for Lent. Last year I gave up sleep. I set my clock 20 minutes earlier every morning so that I could spend time in prayerful meditation, which often ended in unintentional dozing; a taxing task for my unwilling circadian rhythm.
Exhausted, I barely hopped into Easter. God laughed, "What'd you do that for? You already gave up sleep when you had four children."
This year I kind of counted on trying something easier, like forgoing bingo. Sitting at the breakfast table on Ash Wednesday, I questioned my children and husband about their intentions, hoping they picked trivial trials so I could, too.
My three sons chose to give up video games for 40 days. My daughter surrendered watching television. My husband forfeited Diet Coke.
Well, dang it all to Dixie! I couldn't very well announce, with a pure heart, "I think I'll quit bingo," when they tethered themselves to misery, practically wearing hair shirts, for more than a month. They would have doubted my sincerity when I explained my objective to avoid traveling the wide and rambling road to perdition via gambling via bingo, a veritable greased slide to the underworld.
Almost as watchful as God Himself, my younglings would have pointed out, "But you don't even play bingo!" I suddenly felt pressured to set a good example by following theirs.
The vices of coffee and chocolate both raised their hands and reluctantly volunteered to take their turns in the cycle of fasting. But an inner voice cleared its throat and interrupted, "Recall that you already gave up sleep. Would abstaining from coffee be a wise move?" Thus, in an imprudent action, so quick my inner voice couldn't stop me in time, I swore off chocolate.
Chocolate! We live in a chocolate-covered world. My declaration invited temptation from the get-go. Not a day has passed that the devil hasn't enticed me with the sweet, palate-pleasing goodness of the commodities of the cocoa bean.
For Valentine's Day, my husband presented me with a box of delicious Dove delectables. I thanked him for his gesture and commanded, "Get behind me, Satan."
Then my Girl Scout cookies arrived in mid-February. I have wandered in the desert helplessly watching my housemates slurp down sleeve after sleeve of Thin Mints. In desperation, I convinced myself that Tag-a-Longs are mostly peanut butter and, therefore, not part of my abstention. The flesh is weak. Feeling low and agitated, I remembered, "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation."
But savvy scouts earning their Sales Badges assaulted me at the door to the grocery store with their guerilla marketing strategies. Trying not to look them in their steely eyes, I coached myself, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walketh about seeking whom he may devour."
Satan must have given up chocolate as well.
Last week, ordering coffee at Starbucks, I asked the cashier to recommend something decaf and sweet. "How about a white mocha latte with whipped cream?" she suggested. Well if it's white mocha, I reasoned.
"Woe unto them that call evil good. They put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter," my conscience quoted, attempting to strengthen my will and soften my edge.
But, oh, my soul is hungry for Easter and a basketful of chocolate bunnies. And once I consume my gluttonous fill on Sunday, people will again say, "Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace."
Next year - bingo. I will guiltlessly eat chocolate and Beelzebub will bother someone else.
(Lucy Adams, a Columbia County native and McDuffie County resident, is author of If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.