I remember hearing the story of a woman who, instead of giving up something of her own choosing for Lent, decided instead to poll her friends and ask them what she should give up.
She’d originally thought of going with something easy like promising not to binge watch re-runs of “Three’s Company” (something she never actually did, which made it that much easier to give up). Her friends thought something more along the lines of skipping her morning cup of coffee or that scoop of ice cream she’d have every night after dinner might be more sincere.
I can’t recall how the story ended. I do remember thinking, though, that when it comes to giving something up, it’s best to go with those less-than-supportive-of-our-spiritual-wellbeing things to which we’ve grown accustomed.
Take, for instance, standing in judgment of others.
In his Sermon on the Mount, Christ Jesus asks: “How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?”
How often do we find ourselves… wait… let me rephrase that: How often do I find myself standing in judgment of someone for something they’ve done, their lifestyle, their political leanings? As harmless as this may seem, I can’t help but notice how much nicer things are when I’m not so judgmental of others – both for me and for them! “First get rid of the log in your own eye,” continues Jesus, “then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”
Being that I’m not Catholic (or Anglican or Lutheran or any of the other Christian faiths more outwardly observant of this tradition), I don’t “do” Lent, at least not in the conventional sense. As a Christian Scientist, though, I am committed to seeing others in their true light – as children of God, equally deserving of my respect, my compassion, my love.
If this requires me to occasionally remove a “log” from my eye, then so be it. I’ve experienced far too many improvements in my relationships with others – even physical healings – as a result of my yielding to this kind of prayer-inspired, God-empowered expression of grace not to want to continue improving on my game.