Tending the Temple

Fast Food Fast

I gave up fast food for Lent.

Yes, this really is a sacrifice for me. I eat a lot of fast food. Too much, I know. I eat fast food because I can feel full after spending less than $5, sometimes less than $3. I eat fast food because I eat so little that I can get away with all those empty calories and it doesn’t show – at least, not on the outside. I eat fast food because it takes no time at all out of my busy schedule. It’s instant gratification.

So, when it came time to pick a Lenten abstention, one that I would really feel, I knew what it had to be. 40 days without Taco Bell. Without McDonalds. Without Popeyes or Chipotle or Hardee’s. No, I will be making lunch, buying from the local sandwich shop, driving to the grocery store salad bar, or eating a sit-down meal.

Except yesterday. Yesterday I went to Krispy Kreme for a donut and coffee.

Is Krispy Kreme fast food?

It’s not a burger, I rationalized. They have nothing but donuts on the menu. I did not give up sweets or caffeine, I justified. Yes, they have a drive-thru window, but I walked in. Starbucks has a drive-thru, but no one would call Starbucks a fast food restaurant. It’s a coffee shop. So is Krispy Kreme. Lenten promise kept.

Except that Krispy Kreme was cheap, fast, and ultimately empty satisfaction. It kept me full enough that I didn’t eat anything else until dinner. It was all about instant gratification, cheap fulfillment, and temporarily feeling good to keep that nagging hunger at bay.

I can justify and rationalize all I want, but the truth is the truth, and the truth hurts.

I was meditating on this when I woke up, and started thinking about my emotional fast food binges. You see, I’m not just a closet Taco Bell aficionado. I am also a shameless flirt. Flirting is my emotional fast food.

It’s cheap, it’s fast, it gives me instant gratification and that feeling of being connected with someone without all the investment of being in an actual relationship. Never mind the fact that I feel as bloated and uncomfortable after indulging myself as I do after that seven layer burrito (shredded chicken makes it healthy, right?).

I did not go into Lent with the intention of giving up flirting. In fact, I joked with my favorite mutual flirt on Ash Wednesday that I wouldn’t! But flirting is emotional fast food. Empty calories. I don’t want love on the run. I want to sit down and enjoy a meal prepared with love. And a Krispy Kreme donut on the side, supplementing something that is real, not a substitution for the real thing.

God is laughing right now. I inadvertently gave up flirting for Lent. 33 days to go. Perhaps I’ll try praying for the men in my life, instead. And being real instead of the cheap imitation of me. I’m nervous about how that will be received. But in the long run, I don’t want a cheap imitation of love. If I want the real thing, I’m going to have work for it, pay for it, and wait for it, and go to healthier places to get fed.

I bet I’m going to feel this sacrifice a lot more than I felt the fast food fast.

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