Every year my friends talk about what they’re giving up for the 40-day lenten period before
Zombie Jesus rises from the ground to fight Darth Vader Easter. Every year, I go on the same tirade about how giving something up for less than two months does not a good Christian make.
As a kid, I’d find sinfully clever ways to participate in lent without actually giving up anything whatsoever. I’d give up ice cream, but still have TCBY because it was frozen yogurt. I’d give up coffee, knowing full well that I never drank coffee unless it was a frothy Starbucks milkshake masquerading as coffee. I never did the no meat on Fridays thing- chicken, burgers, hot dogs were all fair game in my eyes. I especially rejected that practice when I heard a rumor that an early pope’s brother was a fisherman, promoting the no meat thing to jump start his bro’s business. I’m not entirely sure if that’s actually true, but just the rumor of it was enough to push me to seek out meat every Friday as a matter of principle.
Despite my rants about Lent being absolutely ridiculous, I still got confused and sometimes dirty looks for admitting that I gave absolutely nothing up while shoving down a steak dinner. Depriving yourself of one first-world item seemed trivial in comparison to what the rest of the world does without every day. If we’re supposed to emulate what Jesus did for 40 days and nights, wouldn’t we be really awesome Christians if we exiled ourselves to the middle of nowhere and lived off of bugs and rainwater? How is giving up soda or french fries in the 21st Century at all parallel with living in a fucking desert? Worse, many Christians believe that you can cheat on Sundays, which makes total sense because Jesus definitely teleported back home one day a week to eat junk food and catch up on Real Housewives.
I suppose at its core, giving up something is supposed to represent sacrifice, which in turn emulates Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice to all of us. Fair enough. Still, I highly doubt that someone who gives up cookies for 40 days every year is getting a fastpass to heaven over someone that is a genuinely nice and good human being. Not saying that’s me. I’m painfully aware that I can work on the whole “being nice” thing. That said, I decided that this year for Lent I was going to reject all tradition and do something completely different. I gave up being a dick.
That’s right. In addition to not being the snarky asshole that I am, I tried to do one outwardly nice thing for a person/stranger each day. Opening doors, letting them go first in the Starbucks line (even though they cut anyways), donating to causes I support that help people in need. I’m not a saint, and I certainly wasn’t perfect. But the best part about this whole not-being-a-tool thing? I don’t have to stop, and I shouldn’t stop. I can remind myself every day to not be a jerkoff, and to do nice things for people. I’ll fail more times than I can count, but I’ll live in Lent every day. And isn’t that the whole point anyway?
Maybe next year we should all try giving up things that we know are horrible, so we can banish them from life for good. Obviously, this negates giving up pizza or candy, because both of those things are awesome. But permanently giving up complaining, sidewalk pushing, passing horrible and discriminating legislation, and being mean to baristas and waitstaff are all very small steps we can take to make this world a happier place. Despite the whole meat buffet on Friday thing, I’m pretty sure Jesus will be aiight with me as long as I’m a decent individual.
Happy Zombie Jesus day, everybody. May your Easter Egg Hunts be bountiful, and may your Hershey bars be fruitful and multiply.