February 16, 2007

Be Our Guest / Bob Zyskowski

Let’s give up something different this Lent

So, you’re looking for something to “give up” for Lent again, are you? Here are a few ideas to take us beyond giving up candy or desserts. Ash Wednesday this year is Feb. 21.

• Let’s give up looking for a pat on the back. This Lent, let’s do at least one thing each day for someone who will never be able to repay us. When we get good at that, we can try doing something each day for someone who will never even be able to thank us.

• Let’s give up trying to be comfortable all the time. Instead of seeking comfort, let’s find something to be enthusiastic about and put God’s gifts—our brains, our talents, our resources—to work on behalf of that activity, organization or program.

• Let’s give up trying to one-up others. There’s a Hindu proverb that goes like this: “There is nothing noble in being superior to some other person. True nobility comes from being superior to your previous self.” Let’s find something we can improve about us.

• Let’s give up taking care of No. 1. Instead of thinking about how everything and anything impacts us, let’s worry first about how others are going to be affected—by proposed new laws, by policies, by trends, by economic shifts—by our own actions and behavior.

• Let’s give up being practical. Instead, let’s be kind. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta once said, “Kind words can be short, but their echoes are endless.”

• Let’s give up being in a hurry. Let’s show patience—start in a store checkout lane and extend it to every situation within our families and workplaces. Waiting in line, waiting on hold on the phone, waiting at a traffic light are all good times to say some extra prayers, to start a conversation with God, to listen to what the Lord has to say to us.

• Let’s not curse. We can vent in our minds if that’ll help get over a bit of anger, but keep it internal. Let’s not give voice to our anger, but instead give ourselves time to think of something constructive to say.

• Let’s not pile on. When someone is being taken to task, rather than joining in hitting an easy target let’s think about how we might help solve the problem we face.

• Let’s not talk about people we have issues with. Let’s talk with them. Beats stewing and conjuring up questionable reasons for whatever it is that is troubling us.

• Let’s not argue over small things. Let’s save our passion and our energy for things that really matter. And let’s argue about those things until others understand why we are so passionate.

• Let’s not be bitter. Rather than holding onto hurts, let’s decide to have a forgiving spirit. Think of being bitter like taking poison and expecting someone else to die. When we’re bitter, we only hurt ourselves.

• Let’s not be crabby. Let’s be able to remember Lent 2007 as the time when people started noticing what a great, upbeat, pleasant attitude we seem to have every day of our lives.

(Bob Zyskowski is associate publisher of The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.) †

Local site Links: