I expected, when starting this abstinence program, not to buy blouses or shoes or new jeans or pillows for my couch or home decorations. Like Jesus, the temptations keep cropping up and not in the ways of not buying a blouse. Since starting, I have been tempted to purchase a new car to replace my New Beetle - (the correct name is "New" - it does not refer to age as my car is a 2002 model). It is great color and runs well, but it does have 118,118 miles on it. Many people I know replace a car every two years. This beauty of mine is nine years old. It may not be as reliable as it once was though I have no inkling of that. But the "bug" (pun intended) has bit me and more than once a week I have looked to see what I would replace my beloved car with. Nothing that would be so beloved, nothing so well-behaved, nothing so recognizable. Perhaps nothing as reliable. Just new(er). I even went so far as to get pre-approved from my bank. I am now past this temptation.
Is this how it went for Jesus - one temptation, then another follows, because, as surely as night follows day, I have a new temptation. A new couch. One that I can actually sit on - one where my feet hit the floor, where the seat is about the depth of my sit bone to knee, one that is not so soft that it hurts my back. I have looked online. Priced some - determined where I would not purchase one based upon merchant reviews - even sat on a few. The temptation is real. But not so totally overwhelming that I have succumbed.
How many times was Jesus tempted? How many times did he say "no?"
Next temptation is cosmetic surgery. Will my insurance pay for it? If so, would this be called a purchase? How doe I determine what is health and what is vanity? Is my vow of denial i=hindering later health?
What temptation follows? How many times will I be tempted to change my mode. And if I do start spending, what happens to my resolve? I started this so that I could have more empathy for people who don't have disposable income to purchase anything that catches their fancy.
At the time of my first writing, school was starting and my bank's quick quiz alerted me to the costs faced by a family getting kids back to their "free" education: over $650 per family. My saying "no" was just a self-test. This is a pass/fail exam. I want to say I have passed. But not so quick.
Even though I have not purchased anything for myself other than food and gas, does my SegTour in Gettysburg have to be included? And does my motel count? I splurged and stayed in a nicer place in Gettysburg for two nights at less than it would have cost to stay in Bethesda for one night. I guess I do not have to count the motel (rationalize money spent). The tour - yes I do have to count it. But I loved it (excuse for taking the tour) and I rarely DO anything for myself (justification?) and I promise to think twice before I do anything like that again (bargaining) or spend any more money (repentance). For penance, I anonymously gave a huge sum of money to a family in my congregation to help them with unexpected expenses.
This "diet" is more restrictive than I expected, easier in some ways than I expected and more difficult in others. And I still have not started on the $21 a week for food. I imagine I will have cravings all week