This Lent, the first sacrifice that I am making is to work to eat out of our pantry and freezer as much as possible. Here is my reasoning, goal, etc.
1. I waste food and I know it. I lose things in the recesses of my freezer because I lack the discipline to keep in mind what we already have before buying food because it's easier for me.
2. When I hit the wall, if I need to, I know that I do have the ability to walk down the street and get more groceries. Whether I take this or not, when I hit that wall I can pause and pray for those who can't walk down the street for groceries like I can.
3. It helps me really focus and meditate on the Scriptures and the Lord's Prayer.
4. I think we get more creative when we are working on a wing, a prayer, what our friends can help us with, and that is a way to see God in my life.
The way I do it is that I can prepare to a certain extent before Lent starts (see what I have in there, make sure there are no major gaps) and I will still buy fresh fruits, dairy and eggs and perishables because I'm not willing to compromise healthfulness. And I'm not letting the kids who have birthdays in Lent not have what the other kids have either. But I need to use the freezer as much as I can, and the pantry as much as I can for meals.
And I think this is one thing where you know if you're cheating or not, and even when you cheat you still see that you're cheating and that knowledge and reminder that this is reality for many people, that they have to stretch the pantry of freezer until Payday (or until the social security or unemployment check clears, or the food pantry opens again.) This is my way to stand in solidarity with and pray with people for whom that life is a reality, because it's a lot of people.
So, today being Ash Wednesday, I figured that it was time to see what I actually have on hand. I started opening up pantry doors and pulling things out, counting them, entering what I have into my mealplanning app.
It took about 20 minutes in before I realized just how important this sacrifice is really going to be for me. I looked through everything and realized that I have almost 20 pounds of pasta. I have meal after meal after meal sitting right here and I didn't even know it. Between disorganization and absentmindedness, I didn't see how many days bread I've already been given. And I can hear the echoes from every single time that I've whined about how "we don't have anything here to eat." Looking at it all now is humbling in a way that I really can't put easily into words.
It took a few hours this morning, but the pantry has been tackled and organized. I will have to do the freezer tomorrow morning. But as I put things away, can by can, jar by jar, cereal box after cereal box I could not help but wonder how many other gifts that aren't food that God has given to me that are lying forgotten in a corner next to some other mislaid virtues. How many blessings do I have hidden in the cupboard all but forgotten because I haven't taken store of them?
I think this will be a very humbling Lent.