No, I don’t mean dryer lint.
The Catholic Church entered a new time of the year this week called Lent. During this time, Christians from all around the world take part in penance, sacrifice and reflection until the most extravagant time of the Catholic year comes 40 days later, Easter. Lent symbolizes Jesus’s 40 days in the desert, never once giving into the temptations of the Devil while growing closer to God. Today, instead of going into the desert for 40 days, we participate in fasting. And I hate it.
I neither hate God nor Jesus nor my religion. I don’t hate that I choose to give something up to grow closer to God. I don’t hate that I’m not supposed to eat meat on Fridays (Taco Tuesdays are still viable). I hate how social media has made Lent into an I’m-holier-than-thou-with-what-I’m-giving-up. It’s become a competition or even worse, a fad diet. It has become the “second chance” to fulfill the failed New Year’s resolutions.
I am in no way a perfect Catholic. I have, as most college students my age do, stopped going to church in order to figure out my own beliefs and like some, I have eventually found my way back. But one thing I have always prided myself on is grasping what Lent is meant to be about: making the world a better place instead of trying to lose two pounds while griping about it.
When we were kids, giving up soda, chocolate and pizza was cute. Now as adults, we need to be looking at the bigger picture. We live in a world that is so full of hate and agony that there is so much more we can do than give up carbs and soda. Perhaps giving up carbs is a way for you to better yourself, but instead of just giving up fast food, buy a meal for someone else. Give the money that would be spent on McDonald’s to your favorite charity, or even better, take a few hours out of your weekend to volunteer somewhere. Pope Francis said that we should spend our time performing acts of mercy instead of focusing so much on ourselves.
It is a new year and a new Lenten season. Since social media has become popular, Christians all over the world have been posting about what they are giving up and more or less complaining about it. Jesus didn’t give into temptation for 40 days and certainly didn’t complain about it on Facebook. Though we aren’t meant to be perfect, we shouldn’t be complaining about taking the opportunity to grow closer to God and ultimately become better people.