I know it’s a little late for New Year’s resolutions. GUESS WHAT–this is not a post about my New Year’s resolutions. And let me tell you why not: I don’t believe in them. It’s partly because they’re only made to be broken, partly because I’m too lazy to think of anything, but mostly because I was raised Catholic.
Here’s the what: if I’m going to force myself to set an exercise goal, or cut out certain parts of my diet, or donate more time to charity or to be a nicer person (fat chance there), I need a little more motivation than, like, the fact that it’s time for a new Yoga Cats & Yoga Kittens wall calendar. What’s to stop me from quitting? My own willpower? That’s a lot of weight to rest on some pretty narrow shoulders. Narrow and a bit sloped, unless we’re playing piano–and then they’re nice and parallel to the floor because my Lithuanian piano teacher drilled it into my head that THAT IS HOW WE DO IT IN THE MOTHERLAND.
Do you know who does have the broad, beefy back strength combined with the capacity for soul-withering disappointment needed to help me commit to my promises? God does. Strong like bull. Jesus H. Christ will be there to keep me on the straight and narrow like that fat baby New Year never could. And there is no time during the year when God’s almighty guilt-trip is so strong as Lent, the period between Ash Wednesday (better known to you pagans as your wicked hangover the day after Mardi Gras) and Easter. Because during Lent, all good Catholics (and I think some other Christians?) are asked to make a Lenten Promise: either give up something or commit to do something that will probably make you a better person in the end and remind you of the great sacrifice Jesus made when he gave up his life for the sins of the world. You know, you give up potato chips so you can empathize with Jesus on that whole dying thing.
It’s also important to tell someone else about your Promise, because they can help keep you in check. If your finger twitches towards that Coke button at the vending machine and you don’t hear a sigh of disappointment from your inner God-conscience, hopefully you’ll have a good Catholic friend nearby to ask, “Really? Jesus was executed in front of a jeering audience and you can’t give up soda for 40 days?” Or, “Jesus was tempted by the devil himself on a hunger strike-induced hallucination fest in the desert and you can’t resist Dakota the Panera barista when he tells you you have a free pastry on your rewards card?”
And that’s why I don’t waste my time on New Year’s resolutions, because if I really want to get something done, I’ll wait for Lent when the crippling Catholic guilt that remains despite all attempts to become a Godless savage will ensure that I stick to my guns. “You’re not going for a run today? Well, Jesus carried his own instrument of torture up a hill, but I guess if you’re really too tired you should definitely just stay on the couch and watch the Ghost Hunters International marathon.”
Jack knows all about it.