It’s Lent, and I am trying to embrace the season’s gift of grumpiness. I know that in this lead-up to Easter one is supposed to wander around in a saintly fog of piety and penitence, but mostly I am just somewhat pissed.
There are the usual deadlines and disruptions to contend with, but nothing that really warrants the level of irritation I am feeling. It may have something to do with the fact that I have given up my daily dose of Dove, as a Lenten discipline.
You see, my name is Andy, and I am a chocoholic.
I don’t allude to addiction flippantly. Over the past few years I have seen more than enough of this world up close, following someone very dear across its broken landscape. Like mocking Stations of the Cross, the trail has included ERs, detoxes, rehabs, halfway houses, and junky motels.
If I had a bumper sticker for each stop, you wouldn’t be able to see the back of my car. There have been broken walls, broken bones, broken promises, broken hearts.
Addiction isn’t something I take lightly. But it’s easy to dismiss as something “out there,” something that only concerns really desperate people. That is, until you start to tinker with those less obvious comforters and coping strategies most of us employ.
Like my little piece of chocolate (okay, two) with morning coffee, and a couple in the evening. Or how about your daily double shot of espresso on the way to work? “Nobody talk to me before I’ve had my caffeine fix, haha.”
Substitute Corona for chocolate and cocaine for caffeine in the previous paragraph, and people will start to raise their eyebrows.
So my Dove abstinence is making room for some annoyance, which I am trying to receive with gratitude. It reminds me how I can turn to things to help take off some of the sharp edges of life. The big difference between me and the person I have lost much sleep over is the degree to which we have gone.
That gap is a significant one, of course. My sweet tooth hasn’t led to blackouts, injuries, homelessness, and suicidal thoughts. But it’s easy to be judgmental about other people’s choices when we haven’t had to deal with the sharpness of the edges of their life.
Going without chocolate for a few weeks rekindles my anger at addiction, for what it does to people—and those who love them. More, it fuels my anger over a broken world, and makes me strain to see what’s coming: Easter, and the promise that one day all our hurts and hopes will be fully met.