What are you giving up for Lent?

Parson to Person

Max Lucado writes: “Insensitivity makes a wound that heals slowly. If someone hurts your feelings intentionally you know how to react. You know the source of the pain. But if someone accidentally bruises your soul, it’s difficult to know how to respond.”

1.         Someone at work criticizes the new boss who also happens to be your dear friend. “Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot the two of you were so close.”
2.         A joke is told at the party about overweight people. You’re overweight. You hear the joke. You smile politely while your heart sinks.
3.         What was intended to be a reprimand for a decision or action becomes a personal attack. “You have a history of poor decisions, John.”
4.         Someone chooses to wash your dirty laundry in public, “Sue, is it true that you and your husband are separated?”

Insensitive comments. Thoughts that should have remained thoughts. Feelings which had no business being expressed. Opinions carelessly tossed like a grenade into a crowd. (Max Lucado, God Came Near, pages 137-138.) What are we to do?

People often ask me what I am giving up for Lent. From year to year I “give up” certain things I normally do not do without. One year I “gave up” desserts. Another year I “gave up” ketchup (Have mercy, I almost didn’t make it that year!) One other year I gave up French Fries!

So, what am I giving up this year, and what do the opening words of this piece have to do with Lent and “giving up?” Simply stated: Too often, I have journeyed through Lent to the cross and not looked deeply within myself. Lent is a time of inward reflection. It invites us to look to Jesus as the one who helps “perfect” our faith and encourages us to join our Lord in revealing the image of God. It asks that each soul look within and confess sins. It invites us to see every person as someone for whom Jesus Christ died. Lent poses the question, “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his bounty to me?”

So, for me, in 2022, my “giving up” will be more than French Fries of Ketchup. I will strive to “give up” specific viewpoints. In short, here’s what I pray my Lenten Journey will afford.

1. To see my glass half full, rather than half empty.
2. To speak words of kindness or not speak at all.
3. To understand that Jesus wants a lot more than my money, and that my vision about money must be in line with his vision of it.
4. To speak the truth in love…no matter the consequence.
5. To care about my neighbor as I do myself.
6. To be an ambassador for Christ.

To accomplish this will mean “giving up” some big portions of myself. But the journey to a cross requires significant, inward reflection that does more on Easter Sunday than say, “Golly, I’m glad there’s an Easter!” Think about it as we journey together to the cross.

Ken Timmerman                          

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