I gave up meat for Lent.
Over the past year, I have begun to be far more interested in food and health. I guess this began at camp last year. Basically most every meal we had was fried, and I just felt absolutely disgusting by the end of my 7 weeks there.
When I got back to my apartment in Waco, one of the things that I became most excited about was going to the grocery store and buying some healthy food-- veggies, yogurt, real eggs, almond milk, whole grains, hummus, etc. I also started watching these videos on youtube that talked about health.
Some of these videos talked about basic things that most people know, like saturated fats are bad, and that we need to eat our fruits and veggies. Some others talked more about high fructose corn syrup, GMO, MSG, and other harmful things that food manufacturers put in our food to get us addicted. These videos also talked about the real dangers of simple carbohydrates, saturated fats, fried foods, and sugary drinks. All of this blew my mind.
Over the past couple of semesters I have tried to eat healthier. I still mess up and treat myself, but my diet now will consist of whole grain tortillas and hummus rather than kraft mac and cheese.
I have also begun to recognize the value in locally grown and natural foods. Reasons for this being that I like to put my money into the local economy, the food is fresher, and it tastes better.
Something I've become aware of lately is how not only are there pesticides that are put on our produce in the supermarket, but also the meat that we buy and eat is filled with gross stuff as well. For example, meat should go bad after around 4 days, but meat producers will pump most of the meat in grocery stores full of carbon monoxide to keep it looking fresh.
So for lent I decided to give up meat.
Before I gave it up I wasn't really eating too much meat anyway, but I also wasn't restricting myself in anyway. There's a difference when I'm purposefully not eating it than when I just don't want to eat it.
So I decided to allow myself to eat meat on sundays (sundays aren't counted into the 40 days of Lent). Most times I would only have a little chicken, but last week I ventured out. The college group I'm involved with at church had a little cookout, and I decided to indulge in a hamburger and a couple small pieces of sausage.
Bad choice. For the rest of the day I was feeling gross and feeling kinda sick. It's funny how our bodies will adjust to what we do or do not put in it.
As Americans we eat a lot of meat. I have especially realized this especially over the past month or so. Walk in to most restaurants, and it is a challenge to find something that doesn't involve some sort of chicken, beef, or bacon. If you think about it, it almost seems kind of silly. Here God gave us all these vegetables, fruits, grains, and nuts to fill our bodies with the nutrients, protein, fiber, and calcium we need to live, but here we are eating a diet that generally doesn't include these natural gifts given by God. It's awesome how God gives us the food to eat and the nutrients we need naturally.
A lot of people would ask me where I was getting my protein. For some reason we have this misconception that we can only get the protein we need from poultry and meats. Truth is that our culture eats too much protein, and meat is just one way to getting it. It can also be found in nuts, eggs, legumes, seafood, seeds, and soy.
I have nothing against eating meat. I think it is ok for us to kill animals and eat the meat from them. However, my issue is our way of doing so. Feeding our animals antibiotics and steroids and then killing them.... putting hazardous chemicals in the food... not exactly The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, but it's up there.
So yah... not gonna go completely vegetarian now, but I'll be eating less meat for sure. Natural and grass fed meat when I can help it.
During Lent, I unintentionally learned a lot about grace. I got a new view of the story of Jesus' death and resurrection.
I'm not going to go into specifics, but let's just say that a group including myself and some friends, got together to study one day. We started to form a list of study questions and sent them out to the class. Because of the circumstances of the exam, this could have been viewed as cheating, even though it was not our intention whatsoever. Basically our professors found out, and it was a big thing... thankfully they realized that we were not trying to cheat, and we didn't get in trouble.
I'm applying for a graduate school program at Baylor. Because of some circumstances, my application was not in until the last minute. I knew that all of my stuff was in, but I was worried about my reference letters. The next day, the school e-mailed out that they were extending their admissions deadline.
Grace is an undeserved gift. They didn't have to not punish us. They didn't have to extend the deadline.
Jesus didn't have to put my sins on his shoulders and carry them for me.
I've been thinking about this a lot lately, especially in the past week: what was Jesus feeling during those final hours of his life?
How was he feeling when his closest friends wouldn't stay awake with him during his final hours in the Garden? Or when one of them betrayed him with a kiss? One of the most symbolic signs of intimacy... and he was led to persecution by it.
I've been trying to put myself in his shoes. Trying to think of circumstances in which my friends didn't come through or when I felt betrayed by someone I loved. It hurts, and it hurts deep.
Some of the very people who Jesus knew and loved were yelling to Pilot to crucify him.
and that is where I see the grace.
The Bible tells us that three days after he was crucified, Jesus came up from the tomb. He appeared to Mary and Martha, and then the disciples.
If you recall, in Mark14, all of the disciples completely deserted Jesus (and then there is an awkward story about a guy running naked). Not only were Jesus' disciples unable to stay awake with him in the garden, but they completely deserted him in his time of need.
When we look at the resurrection we don't see a guy who is upset at his closest friends for deserting him. We don't see a guy who is holding resentment for the things that have been done to him. No, here Jesus embraces his disciples. He forgives them and loves him. He tells them to go out and spread his name. He gives them a mission and a purpose... these very people who betrayed him.
I like to think that these examples of grace shown to me can be adequate examples of the grace Jesus gives us... but I don't think it can. While I know that I feel thankful and undeserving of the gifts bestowed upon me, I know that what Jesus did is far more than any of that. He made it so that I could show grace to others in response to how he's shown it to me.