Monday, February 27, 2012

What did you give up for Lent?

I have to preface this with letting you know I grew up Catholic. The Lenten season was almost a mystery to me, and my understanding was that the symbolism of "giving up" something, or "fasting," was to represent Christ's suffering for us.
I read last week about a woman who gave up Facebook for lent. According to the article, "Melendes thinks she will learn something about herself by going without Facebook until Easter.

“Probably how much I use it, and how much I use it to stay connected to my friends and my family,” she said."
Really? That's deep...sarc>
"Melendes is not giving up all social media, however. She says she cannot stop using Twitter along with Facebook. “That would be impossible,” she said."

I've heard of lots of different "fasts" from people. "I gave up chocolate.....soda, candy, sweets, pastries, cigarettes, etc." And let's not forget to fast "meat" on Friday, although fish is OK because Jesus ate it.
I thought this morning about some meaningful things one might apply to this season. Here are some suggestions of what some of my Catholic (and others) friends might want to think about:

Give up Unforgiveness. The end of the Lenten season is Easter. The whole focus of Easter is Christ's final act - the death and resurrection for the redemption of our sins. Yes, He died so that we would be forgiven. "It is finished," He declared. Forgiven - for all our crap, past, present, and future. No questions, no wavering, no doubts. No holding a grudge against us until he makes sure we are sorry - no...."It is finished."

Give up Judgment of others. Try some compassion. I heard it said before that we want mercy for ourselves, but judgment for others. Ask what might be going on in that other person's life. Do you like being judged by someone who doesn't have all the facts? Compassion - it's a value that's missing from most of us. Quit thinking the worst first. Things aren't always as they appear, and more often, there is more to the story than we know. Consider the fact that people have issues just like you do. And God made us all different for a reason. He gave you gifts, and He gave others gifts too. We're all different, so embrace the diversity.

Give up Anger. Ok, it's alright to feel angry, but it's not alright to let that anger fester and destoy ourselves and others. Feelings are just feelings. Process the feeling, and come to a conclusion to let it go. Life is too short. Christ's love can walk us through the anger and into peace - His desire for us. Ask yourself what the real issue is, and then resolve it.

Give up Arrogance. You're not always right. It's not always your way, and it's not always about you. Just as there are an infinite number of personalities, there are infinite ways to do things and have a good conclusion. You might even learn something if you let it go and watch how someone else figures something out. Be an encourager, not a criticizer. Everyone wants love and acceptance.

Give up Criticism. Everybody is different. Even you. Your critical spirit is like poison - not only to you, but to others around you. Find something good about someone and focus on that.

Give up Ungratefulness. Appreciate what you have - even your job. If you really don't like your job, why are you there? Find things to enjoy and be grateful. We live in a country that has everything we need for us to be successful and happy, and we spend too much time looking at the things that we don't like instead. Try writing a list of 20 things you are thankful for. Do it again. Love what you have.

Give up Ugliness. You like respect, right? So do other people. There's no reason to be mean. Smile when someone else is being rude. It's their problem, don't make it yours too. Refuse to let others' demeanor determine yours. Practice being nice. Be kind.

Give up Impatience. Sometimes things slow us down so that we can take time to see something new, or learn another way, or maybe keep us from something harmful. Enjoy the journey. Slow down. You'll get a more harmonious outcome.

Give up Intolerance. Again, we're all different. Get over it. Love.

You have inside of you love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness tolerance, patience, and self-control.