Many people view Marti Gras, or "Fat Tuesday" as a chance to get wasted before a time of penitence during Lent. Whether with alcohol or some other drug such as caffeine, sugar, cigarettes, addictive prescription drugs or illegal drugs, some people are considering trying to quit something this year.
You may be trying to quit doing something right now. Something powerfully addictive in your life. Are you addicted to Facebook or another form of voyeurism and/or approval seeking? Are you addicted to pornography or another form of objectifying and dehumanizing people? Are you addicted to caffeine, or other forms of revving yourself up other than meaningful relationships, food, water, work, exercise, and rest? Are you addicted to a prescription drug, or some other form of narcotic that masks pain so you don't have to feel anything? Are you addicted and trying to quit eating and drinking so much sugar? Are you trying to quit smoking, eating twice the meat that your body really needs? What are you trying to quit doing?
Now, do you really need to binge on that today? Or do you need to gather it all up and pour it down the sink? I used to visit a friend of mine named Ron who was a Vietnam veteran living in Nashville, Tennessee. When he realized alcohol was contributing to being suicidal and violent, he took the bottles he had left and pour them down the sink. It was hard to see the money and the "good whiskey" going down the tubes, but it was needed for him to truly get ready for change.
Binging on something the day before you give it up is not really the best way to prepare yourself for giving something up. Do you need to pour something down the drain today to prepare yourself for Ash Wednesday? Do you need to chunk something in the fireplace, down the disposal? A friend told him his wife used to take a half-eaten pan of brownies and just soak it with water in the sink before chunking them down the disposal. Why? Because some people are not above pulling brownies out of the trash!
For disciples of Jesus, Marti Gras is not an opportunity to binge on an addictive substance. Fat Tuesday is a chance to further prepare yourself for the training period to come. Here are some things you can prepare.
- Groceries. Clean out and purchase what you need for a fast of some kind.
- Bible. Get a Bible ready for readings we will do during Lent. Some will be printed in the blog, but you may choose to note the texts and read them in a paper Bible.
- Journal. Reflection will be a big part of what we'll do together.
- Money. Set aside some money for the poor. If you are unable to consider this because you are in so much debt, then back up and consider getting out some credit cards and freezing them during Lent. Literally, put your favorite credit card in a bowl, fill it full of water, and put it in the freezer.