The downside of official holy days is that the days before them tend to become unholy days. Hence, for some, the vows of faithfulness spoken at a marriage ceremony are preceded by a bachelor party in which the devoted-spouse-to-be gets drunk or stoned, watches porn, takes in a lap dance, and maybe even has sex with a stranger.
Hence, Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent, a time of introspection and penance, is preceded for many by days of extreme indulgence. Still, Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, and Carnival aren’t the real issue. It’s that humans are so damnably human.
Fat Tuesday gets its name from the tradition of finishing off left-over meats and sweets right before the coming season of self-restraint. And truthfully, anyone can enjoy a big slice of pie or a couple of beers and not regret it. But an orgy of eating? A marathon of drinking? Maybe not.
The key to enjoying an indulgence, after all, is novelty, not extremity. Substance and behavior addicts don’t enjoy their binges, they loathe them—and themselves. The don’t experience joy, but the absence of it. The real problem with “going a little (i.e. a lot) crazy” is the sheer desperation of it. The absence of true joy. Which is why…
You can tell more about the state of a person’s heart on Fat Tuesday than you can on Ash Wednesday.
A friend’s fifteen-year marriage to a charming boy-man fell apart when she found out he’d been cheating on her for years. Then she learned he’d cheated on her the entire week leading up to their wedding. Why? He was “getting it out of (his) system,” he said. But the truth is, he’s clinically depressed, and that isn’t something you get “out of your system” with a sham marriage or extramarital affairs.
If you can’t be joyful without “going a little crazy,” you’ve never experienced real joy.
And real joy is what you were created for.
“When you live as I lead you, my heart becomes your home, just as I have lived as my Father leads me, and have made his heart my home. I’m telling you this so that my joy will live in you. Yes, your joy will be complete.” ~John 15:10-11 (paraphrase)