I didn’t practice Lent growing up. In fact, I had no idea what it was until my senior year of HS when I had my first Catholic girlfriend. Prior to that I thought it was just a weird period of time when some kids gave up candy. I had no idea of the religious implications of Lent, mainly because I was a fat kid and couldn’t get past the horror of willingly giving up food. But in the last few years my understanding of the practice has gained a new perspective. I know I’m probably still ignorant to much of the act, but I think I have an idea of the intent behind it at least.
So too, do millions of other people. I’m not going to bother myself with the research but I’m sure the number is pretty high, just in America alone. Lent has been around for a while, as much as we discuss the very real decline of religious participation around the world, Lent has a long way to go before it becomes a pastime as forgotten as the Harlem Shake.
With all this being said, some of y’all still don’t have it down. I don’t know what the problem is. I suspect it’s just your natural tendency to be an abrasive asshole seizing Lent the way it’s seized every other aspect of your life, but I’ll assume better and conclude ignorance to not only the practice, but general social civility. Still, ignorance is no excuse, least of all when it comes to being an obnoxious asshat, so let me help those of you out who are as uncultured to Lent as I am to Tibetan Monastery procedure.
First, like most aspects of life, Lent is best practiced quietly. If you’re participating, great. If you’re not, great. I don’t need to know either way. There’s no reason for me to read multiple times a day, a week, really at all, how hard it’s been to give up chocolate. I also, probably even more so, don’t want to read any smug bullshit about how you have chosen to, “GiVe Up LeNt FoR lEnT, HuMmM DuRrRr.” Just shut the hell up. If you’re struggling with whatever it is you’re abstaining from find someone to talk to privately, because chances are you haven’t given up your car or your job or eating, you’ve given up chocolate or going out more than twice a week. That doesn’t require public lamentation, that requires refocusing your perspective on what sacrifice really is and whether guacamole is a sacrifice.
Second, even though I pretty much just did this the entire last paragraph, don’t judge people for their Lenten choice. If someone gives up white wine but not red, who the hell cares. If someone gives up showering, okay, that’s something to not necessarily judge but ask some questions about because that’s a choice the rest of us are going to be burdened with. If someone doesn’t participate, please, and I cannot stress this enough, leave them the hell alone. Jesus didn’t die for our sins so you could spend your life admonishing those who practice or form their faith different from you. Remember that’s Jesus up on that cross, not you. You don’t have to look down your nose at someone who has chosen to forego Lent.
Finally, remember Lent isn’t something to win. It’s not a Tough Mudder. The point isn’t to be miserable for 40 days so on the 41st you can kill yourself through over indulgence in whatever it was you gave up. It’s so you can reflect on what you gave up, why you chose that, and the significance it has on your life. It’s so you can fill your time with things you believe will be more meaningful, that will help you grow and become better. It’s to show you that you do have the ability to change your life and you’re not shackled to your vices. So whatever it is you’re giving up whether it’s sports gambling, online shopping, or Hershey’s, please, remember it’s you who gave it up, not the rest of us. And if you’re not participating, shut up. Those who are don’t need you mocking and taunting them for the next 40 days. They don’t make fun you for giving up not being an asshole for the rest of your life, the least you could do is return the favor.
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