I’m not a real “delayed gratification” kind of girl.
I’m a lick the bowl while you’re making the cake, take a bite out of the pizza before you even sit down at the table, have a dinner roll right out of the bag in the car of the grocery store parking lot because they look so fresh and tasty and you’re a tiny bit hungry anyway, kind of girl. I think Vending Machines are one of the best inventions of all time.
I’m not proud of it. But there you have it.
That’s not to say I can’t be disciplined at times, not eat the roll, wait for the bite, forgo the lick. But every fiber of my being cries out in pain when I do so.
And now, during these 40 f-ing days of Lent, when I’m not eating so much sugar, not having my beloved, constant companion of diet Pepsi and not eating bread with every meal, I find myself looking for gratification in another place. Without delay.
My Weight Watchers® Glass Body Analysis Scale by Conair™, to be exact.
I’ve moved it out from under a bookshelf in Zoe’s room where I’d hidden it a while ago and placed it in the downstairs bathroom, primed for those first thing in the morning weigh ins — you know, after I use the toilet, and before any food or drink touches my lips, the scientifically (I think) proven lowest weight moment of the day. I step on the scale with hope and anticipation…waiting for my just reward for healthier eating practices, ready for the sweet gratification of a 1 to 2 lb. weight loss per week.
It hasn’t been happening.
The other day at breakfast, my lovely husband Gary, who has also, in a very non-angsty kind of way, stopped eating so much bread and sugar for Lent, reported cheerfully that even though he hadn’t been quite as Lentenly disciplined as he’d hoped the day before, the scale had shown him down 2 or 3 lbs. that morning. “Isn’t that crazy?” he asked laughing.
I wanted to slap him.
And possibly chuck the scale into the nearest ravine.
Here’s the world I want to live in. A world in which you do the right thing, you’re “good” – and you get rewarded for it. You don’t eat so much bread and sugar for a few days and the bathroom scale rewards you with a couple pound loss. And when your husband perhaps has a few pieces of Lou Malnati’s pizza on a Sunday night, the scale does NOT show him 3 lb. lighter the next morning.
A world in which the rain does NOT fall equally on the just and the unjust.
A world in which the just get the rain they need when they need it and when they want sunshine, it shines down on them beatifically. And when the just have stopped eating so much sugar they drop five pounds and when they work really, really hard on a fabulous new ad campaign for their clients, the clients buy the campaign, WITHOUT CHANGING A WORD, and the just win multiple industry awards for this brilliant campaign and possibly also the respect of their peers and their Chief Creative Officer in the process.
A world in which a just mother who loves her children desperately and has done everything in her power to provide for them physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally and financially, is admired and adored by said children, and when they are asked to write little essays about the person who influenced them the most in their lives, they without question, write about their amazing and awesome Mom. Oh and also they call her a lot just to chat about their love lives and friendships and to ask her advice about what to wear to big events and such.
And in case you are starting to think this is all about me, I also deeply want to live in a world in which good mothers don’t get brain aneurysms and die at 43, where innocent children aren’t gunned down or stabbed at their school desks, where 13-year-old African girls don’t have to walk for miles in the dark at dawn to get water for their families, and are raped along the way, where tsunamis never take out thousands at a time, and a young man who has come from nothing who has been trying to be a good father and husband and loves God and does right in the world is not rear-ended by a drunk driver one night on the expressway and dies in a fiery explosion.
In the Bible there are all kinds of analogies used to describe God: shepherd, forgiving father, mother hen, woman with lost coin, rock. I am coming to realize that the God I want is a great and holy mother of a Vending Machine. You put in the right amount of coins/goodness/righteousness/niceness/hard work/best intentions/self-discipline…and you get back exactly what you paid for. Without delay.
With my Vending Machine God, the just would find instant gratification, little children wouldn’t starve, or get AIDs or not have enough clean water, the jerks would get rain on their parades and the nice guys would always win.
That seems right, doesn’t it?
What I actually seem to have though, what we all to seem have, is a Bathroom Scale God. A god in which you can do everything right and he “rewards” you with a two pound upswing. Really? Really God?
Tomorrow is Palm Sunday. The day the church celebrates Jesus “triumphal entry into Jerusalem.” Celebrating the day when Jesus showed up in the Holy City and the crowds got all excited and started waving palm branches and throwing their coats down in front of him so he wouldn’t get any road dirt on him I suppose, showing him the respect He was due.
A couple days later, of course, Jesus is hanging on a cross, getting the opposite of what he had coming to him. I have to bet it might have crossed his mind at that point that a Vending Machine God would have been a better idea.
My god, my god, why have you forsaken me? He cried from the cross. I have to think he wasn’t crying that only for himself, but for all of us. Because we don’t live in a world that we control, that works the way we think it should work.
We are asked to live in a world, in a life, that is horribly complicated and broken in all kinds of places. We are asked to trust that there’s a bigger story at play here, that instant gratification is sweet and simple, but perhaps not the most satisfying in the long run. We are asked to seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly with our God. And to somehow, I suppose, trust that doing those things IS the reward.
I am not that kind of girl, I’m really not. But I’m praying, today, at this moment, anyway, that I can become that kind.