Monday Musings for 2.15.21


Dear Friends,

Last week I gave you a head start on Lent.  Lent actually begins day after tomorrow, Ash Wednesday.  It continues 40 days (not counting Sundays) and ends with the dawning of Easter Sunday.  (Why not count the Sundays?  Because every Sunday is a celebration of the resurrection!)

I have ten things to suggest that we give up this Lent.  If you missed last week, here are the first three:

1) Give up complaining.

2) Give up comparisons.

3) Give up striving ambition.

Here are three more:

4) Give up self-centeredness.  Are you still working on this one too?  We are born selfish.  Learning to think of others first goes against the grain.  It is the most basic life skill of all.  But I’m talking about more than that.  It is also self-centered to think that you are indispensable.  When we start thinking and acting that way, we rob others of the opportunity to let their light shine.  One current example in our church is the Lenten series on Zoom.  That was not my idea.  I had nothing to do with it.  Others are doing all the work.  But what a great idea!  A healthy church is a church that knows that their pastor is not indispensable!

5) Give up not accepting other people’s experiences as true.  It is also selfish to think that your life experiences are the only ones that matter.  When we do not agree with someone, it usually means we don’t understand why they see things the way we do.  What happens next all too often is we translate what the other person is telling us into something that is comfortable for us.  This disrespects the sharer, whose life experiences are every bit as valid as yours.  The word is empathy.  We could use a lot more of that these days.

6) Give up people-pleasing.  The best commentary on this one comes from Aesop and his fable, The Miller, The Son, and the Ass.  A miller and his son are walking their donkey to market to sell it.  They encounter a group of travelers who laugh at them.  “Why are you both walking?  You should be riding that donkey.”  So the son climbs on the donkey’s back and rides. Next they meet some others who get after the son for not respecting his elder.  He should be walking.  His father should be riding.  So they trade places.  They haven’t gone far before they come upon a woman who criticizes the man for making his son walk while he rides.  So the boy climbs on the back of the donkey once more, this time sitting behind his father.  The next group of people tell them that it is animal cruelty to force a donkey to carry the weight of two.  They certainly don’t want to upset these strangers, so they carry the donkey the rest of the way.  A donkey being carried is a rare sight so they attract a lot of attention.  All the fuss frightens the poor animal, who runs away, falls into a river, and drowns.

The moral?  When you try to please everyone you end up pleasing no one (and you also lose your ass.)

In Christ,