Fat Tuesday, one of the most coveted times of the year, where guilt-free binge eating is acceptable and encouraged. While I’m not Catholic, I still choose to participate in Fat Tuesday shamelessly. Although Fat Tuesday isn’t really any different than any other day, lent, on the other hand is a different story.
I grew up in a small country town where half of my high school was Catholic, nonpracticing Catholic at that. And while the majority did not attend weekly mass, the one thing they participated in was Lent. I’m not Catholic, in fact I’m probably the opposite of Catholic, but I still enjoy participating in this six week experience.
A lot of other people, whether they are religious or not, participate as well. The idea of lent is to prepare yourself through prayers, repentance of sins, and thanksgiving all leading up to the week surrounding Jesus’ resurrection.
I would go out on a limb and say that a lot of people who participate in the act of lent are not preparing themselves for the Holy week, myself included.Ultimately I think lent has come down to a mid-year crisis of forgetting our New Year’s resolutions and trying to justify the cheating that happened two weeks after the new year. Ironically, the redemption a lot of people seek for cheating diets and lost volunteer motivation is not the redemption that is meant to be given.
I like to think of lent as sort of a fasting experience. Fasting is typically giving up food or something sustaining in order to grow closer to God. During lent, the time spent eating or doing or using whatever it is you gave up is meant to be a time where you seek God’s direction and guidance. Now how am I supposed to do that if I have a caffeine headache from giving up pop, you ask? Simple. Don’t.
Lent, if not meant to help you recognize that you are a sinner, is just another way for people to claim religion or get back in shape. If you are not seeking God daily, then he probably won’t show up when you’re crabby from sugar withdrawal or irritated with a caffeine headache. If you’re not willing to give up little things like social media or sweets everyday in order to see God work then what makes you think that six weeks out of the year is going to do anything?
I’ll let you in on a secret; I complain, a lot. It’s true, complaining is how I get through the day. I complain about how much I complain. It’s sort of ridiculous and I’m sure my friends are tired of hearing it. So in rebuttal to their constant nagging, I’ve decided to give up complaining for lent.
Six long weeks of keeping my irritation and annoyance to myself. I’m not sure if my head will explode from holding it all inside, but I presume that it will brighten my spirit subtly and will make my presence much more enjoyable. (I’m giving up sweets as well, I could stand to lose a few pounds. My body is temple unto the Lord, right?)
I don’t plan on using this six-week period to better myself but I plan on using it better the world around me. This is going to be the spring board for what I want my life to reflect. When this lent period is over, I don’t want to go back to the way I was. Who wants to gain the 20 pounds they lost right after they just started looking hot? I want my life to be different in the words I say and the attitude I present. I want to keep that 20 pounds of complaining off my shoulders and out of my heart.
So why did I ramble on and on about something that most people already know about? I just want to push your comfort zone. I want you to take this seriously, and to really immerse yourself in the time you spend away from this world and the time you spend with God.
Fat Tuesday is meant for binging food, not binging sins. And lent is meant to cleanse you from sins and not just from food.