Coming Down the Mountain

This week begins Lent.

I’ve never much recognized Lent before. I know what it is; I know the meanings and many of the traditions and ceremonies behind Fat Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, the Lent season, and all the Easter-related days.

Yesterday we celebrated Shrove Sunday (the Sunday before Lent) in church with a pancake brunch (sort of a prequel to Fat Tuesday) after the service where I read scripture during the service.  The scriptures I read were from Exodus and 2 Peter about Moses’ mountain top experience with God. The sermon was about how Jesus didn’t stay on top of the mountain, but went down among the people–the hurting, sick, and sinful people to bring them love and forgiveness.

It reminded me yet again that the greatest love we can show in this world is to humble ourselves as servants to each other.

I am also reminded of our (as humans) habit of relying on things and substances to help us cope with our lives.

I do this with food. I eat my feelings so that I don’t have to feel them. I rely Diet Coke and junk food. I figure one more cookie won’t do anymore harm. What is one more handful of Cheetos anyway?

It’s a problem.

It’s an embarrassment.

I hate myself for every soda I drink and every “fat” food I eat.

When I was pregnant and each bite or sip was not just going into me, but into one of my sons, I was so much more careful. Because it wasn’t about me.

Now all the crap I put in me is about me.

Lent is a time of preparation for the coming of Christ. Many fast or give up something to prepare for Easter.

Christ gave his life so to relate lots of people give up chocolate. That always seemed dumb to me. Growing up we never practiced giving up something for Lent, and I think the idea was that in no way could we give up anything that could come close to symbolizing or relating to Jesus giving his life.

This year, though, I have been thinking about my addiction to putting junk in my body in order to try to stuff my feelings down and satiate an emptiness that I feel when I start to feel anxious or discouraged.

I have been thinking about how this body of mine was given to me to put love in the world and how I have grown two people in it. Why am I not taking better care of it?

So this year for Lent, I am giving up Diet Coke.

It sounds just as lame as giving up chocolate, but it’s a really big step for me. I hope to not just give it up until Easter, but forever. I hope that it will help me to remember to put nourishing nutritious food in my body rather than garbage that hikes up my BMI, my cholesterol, and my shame.

Because it’s hard go down the mountain to spread love and healing in a broken world when your own insides are hurt and broken.

About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.


  1. I”m rooting for you, hon. You can do it. xoxo

  2. Good luck! As one who loves her now 1 diet coke a day, I applaud your desire here. I am good with the one as it is far less than it used to be. I sort of sip it throughout the day. I wonder if I would even be interested in giving it up 🙂

    I know you can do it if it something you really want to do! I wanted to cut back but I never really wanted to totally give it up. I actually find it hard for me to totally give some little things up, and I wonder why this is. It’s not like I “need” diet coke, but it has the taste and carbonation (which I love) and I wonder, should I cut out that last one?

    Sorry, small chapter here. Just wondering about when and why we choose to totally eliminate things for our entire lives 🙂 I will be rooting for you!

  3. I didn’t know what I was going to give up for Lent this year. Like you said, everything seemed so sort of… stupid, or not substantial enough. But your post gave me pause. It’s not about what you give up, it’s about the Lenten journey and what you’re trying to achieve with it. Are you trying to be a better person through sacrifice? Are you trying to help yourself or others?

    So I think I’m going to give up eating out unless I absolutely can’t avoid it (due to a social obligation or something.) I eat out like WOAH and the expense and the poor effects on my health are very damaging and make me depressed and ashamed of myself. I think this is a good Lenten promise to better myself and my family. Thanks for posting. <3

  4. Go you! It is tough – but I know you can do it.
    As part of my living healthier I committed to drinking only 1 Diet Pepsi a day (down from MANY) and I’ve stuck with it since December. And you know what? I am less hungry because of it – Aspartame made me really hungry, so that’s a bonus!

  5. Good luck Katie! I think the meaning behind the sacrifice is such a noble one, and I know you can do it! I haven’t made my decision quite yet. I’ve really been lax with church and our family’s dedication lately, and I want to use Lent this year as a springboard for a better relationship with our church and God.

  6. I’m embarrassed to say that I read this post while stuffing my pie hole with a large donut.

  7. Love, love, love you for this. I gave up diet coke about six years ago when I wound up having to have an upper GI to figure out why I was having heart burn ever single day. And when I gave it up, I went cold turkey. From six to eight cans of diet coke a day, to zero. It’s hard, but we’re here for you.

    Also, blog post to come about what I’m giving up for Lent. It’s going to be my hardest Lent yet.

  8. In the Orthodox church Lent fasting is suppose to be meat and dairy products. Basically, anything that comes from an animal. We never did this growing up, and I have never seen a reason to. A lot of Greeks have adopted the more western tradition of picking something to give up. Again, I never did this. It has a lot to do with my doubts about Jesus and his divinity. Now that I am a parent, and I am talking to my kids about religion and taking them to church where they get the stories, and I tell them things about Jesus I am not sure about, I feel that I need to decide what I believe. I don’t want to feel like I am lying to them.
    I may still have my doubts, but no matter what, Jesus was a man who wanted people to love each other unconditionally. He was crucified and suffered for his beliefs. I respect him even if I cannot help questioning aspects of the story of his life as told by others. All this has lead to to contemplate giving something up this year. I think it is going to be Starbucks. Good for the body, mind, soul and bank account.

  9. Okay — I snorted when I read Cortney’s note (glad I wasn’t in the middle of eating something or it would’ve shot out of my nose). Anyway, Katie, giving up something that you have such a comfort/hate relationship with is a very noble act indeed. I could so relate to what you wrote about eating well during pregnancy because it wasn’t about you. I had gestational diabetes with my last and wow, I’ve never eaten better than I did during that pregnancy. I was so proud of myself. (So why is it so hard for me to eat like that now?!)

    With that said, I have made some very key changes in my diet. One thing that I once read that really resonated with me, is instead of thinking or saying, “I can’t eat (or drink) x” — you need to re-program your brain to say, “I DON’T eat (or drink) x” — because then you’re empowered, not a “victim” or feeling deprived.

    I know you can do this! (Just remember, you’re giving up some real amounts of caffeine — you may need to get that somewhere else — green tea? –for a little while until you wean yourself off. Quitting THAT cold turkey can be really rough).

  10. Best of luck…I’ll be cheering you on! As one who drinks one coca-cola a day I know how difficult this is. I usually give it up completely once or twice a year for 3-4 months…

  11. Yes, yes, I feel you. I hear this. Lent is a season of preparation, and it’s hard to be open to the preparations the Holy Spirit is working in us when we’re kind of numbed out by the substances and activities we use as our personal fig leaves. Check out Addiction & Grace by Gerald G. May. I haven’t read it in several years and I’m probably due for a new look at it, but I remember how piercing it was the first time through.

  12. You can do it, Katie! I used to drink one a day, but two years ago I gave it up cold turkey on a massive rehaul of my diet. Now, I only drink it occasionally, and I don’t even enjoy it that much. I much prefer a nice cuppa tea (currently loving Jasmine Green) these days. Wishing you all the best this Lent!

  13. Love this idea, Katie!
    I rarely drink soda anymore.
    I was never a huge soda drinker before…and it helped that the artificial sweeteners in Diet Coke? turned out to be the miserable reason behind a lot of stomach pain/cramps/etc…and I think whenever I drank one, I thought to myself, “Oh, since it was a DIET coke, that means I saved some calories, so I can treat myself to ____ or _____.”
    I also found w/ less carbonation? I was less bloated. Seriously!

    xoxoxo you can do it!

  14. Way to go, girl! I support you 100%. I only ever drank soda when I was sick when I was growing up, so I don’t have a taste for it. Which is really lucky, because it’s quite addictive! You got this. xo

  15. Good for you and good luck. It’s my biggest vice for sure. I’ve gone to Diet Coke rehab more times than Lindsay Lohan.

  16. You can do hard things.
    You got this.
    And for the record … you are quite lovely both inside and out … but it is sweet to read about the concerns for your soul in helping others xxxx

  17. That last paragraph kind of says it all. But here’s the thing, you do spread love everywhere you go. You know that you are broken. The people who don’t realize that they are broken are the ones that can’t spread the love.

  18. You can do this! I used to drink it every time I went out to eat, but have it up a couple if months ago and have only has one diet cherry limeade since. I don’t really give things up for Lent… haven’t since I was a kid, but I’m rooting for you.

  19. oh wow, isn’t that last sentence true? I think you have inspired me to do the same… to quit putting so much junk in my body this lent and to get back into better habits in general. So good luck to us both!! 😀

  20. “Because it’s hard go down the mountain to spread love and healing in a broken world when your own insides are hurt and broken.”

    This is a truth, indeed.

    But think about this: when someone who is struggling – let’s say financially – and he or she makes a small donation to someone in need – it is so much more meaningful than a rich man writing a large check that’s a fraction of his monetary worth.

    So. When those who are hurt and broken themselves reach out to help heal others, it means more. You’re setting aside your own pain to love someone else in pain. It sets an example.

    And it just means more. Believe it.

  21. You can do it!!
    Coke is NOT it! I’ts not the “real thing”. Do Not “enjoy” Coca Cola.
    the anti-slogans to help you along. LOL

    I was pondering what to give up — each year I say I will and then I never do. And I was committed this year — but then my mom got sick and in the hospital and now I’ve missed the start.
    I didn’t blog until now all week and I actually didn’t get the shakes – ha — but like you say, nothing seems substantial enough.

  22. I love this so much, Katie. I also always thought giving something up for forty days was stupid. What are we trying to prove, that we can be faithful for 40 days? It wasn’t until I learned that we can add something good to our lives at Lent that I understood: God wants us to do better not just for forty days, but forever. The forty days is a just a jumpstart. I started journaling at Lent five years ago, and it’s become part of my life. Your giving up Diet Coke can be that fresh start that reminds you of the good you are doing for not only yourself, but for God. You can do it!