Saturday, March 2, 2013

Guilty Pleasures

I can always tell the state of my metal health by three things: how clean my apartment is; if my writing is sane enough to be published; and how many containers of Ben & Jerry's is currently in my freezer.

Right now, half the furniture is dusted, I am writing a blog post, and Chubby Hubby is taunting me from my kitchen.  So I'd say I'm halfway back to normal.

Stressful times are not uncommon while in seminary.  Right now the community bobbing up and down, ebbing and flowing with the stress filled waves of CPE openings, Senior Assignments, and Internship interviews.  Any one of these things is enough to make a person reach out for their favorite guilty pleasure.  The irony that they all occur in the Lenten season when chocolate is out and vegan Friday's is in does not escape me.

When I first started seminary, I didn't think anything could be more stressful than learning Greek.  A half a year later when I was on CPE in New Hampshire watching parents say goodbye to their newborn who had died from birthing related injuries, I realized that languishing over languages doesn't even scratch the surface of stressful.

Such as with life, a few months later when the sea had subsided and I was back in school, I again felt overwhelmed by language and found myself trolling the dairy aisle at the grocery store.  Stress is real.  Stress happens to all of us.  And it doesn't matter what has come before, when we are in the midst of a stressful time we crave those creature comforts as if for the first time.

It's important that comforts don't become their own source of stress.  As a stress eater, I could easily go up a pant size during finals.  It takes work to remember that when the water surges around us that the waves will again subside.  In the midst of my CPE sea, I never would have realized how much I benefited from the grace of watching parents say goodbye in a loving way.  I never would have realized that living in rural New Hampshire would make me courageous when applying for internships, ready to accept any geographic location or community size.

Our greatest guilty pleasure is the one we don't need to regret in the morning and the one that won't make stepping onto a scale a haunting experience.  The grace of our loving God gives us the life vest to bob in the water when our legs are tired of treading.

Perhaps the reason why CPE openings, Senior Assignments and Internship interviews happen during Lent is to help us remember to reach for our Bibles instead of walking towards the freezer.  Chubby Hubby is delicious, but the grace of God is a remedy that lasts forever. 

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