The family gathered around the table for dinner last week, chit-chatting about the day and the future, when the topic of giving something up for Lent came up.
Aspiring to be good Catholics, we alter our behaviors each year, starting on Ash Wednesday. The idea is to make a change in your life and be penitent. It’s a form of fasting, and we try to challenge ourselves through Easter, when we celebrate the risen Jesus Christ.
As the discussion moved around the table, one of my daughters looked at me and asked what I was giving up.
“I’m giving up,” I wisecracked, “giving up.”
My play on words and attempt at a joke took an unexpected turn. Instead of receiving the anticipated guffaws, it received careful consideration.
At least with the six people around that table, we found ourselves giving up a little too easily. Sometimes we just quit because something’s harder than we expected.
Sometimes it’s giving up on conflict. There are too many times we encountered something we knew wasn’t right, yet we scooted past the problem for fear of causing a scene or making it worse.
Doing the right thing will never make a situation worse.
We’ve all been going along to get along for a long time now, and it doesn’t seem to be making the world a better place. We’re more divided than ever. People accepting their own truths has only made us doubt what’s true at all.
Not giving up anymore means addressing those wrongs when you see them. It means continuing to work hard on things when it seems all hope might be lost. It means taking personal responsibility for everything you touch, to be sure it’s completed to the best of your ability.
As Lenten sacrifices go, this might be one of the hardest I’ve accepted. It was much easier to give up caffeine, chocolate or swearing over the 40 days of Lent (46 if you count the Sundays).
It means speaking up more clearly when you think things have gone astray. It means following back up with people when you have that nagging feeling that a situation wasn’t resolved more clearly.
My wife urged me to explore not giving up during Lent more deeply. I warned her that might mean longer discussions between us, since she’s my primary conversation most of the time and the person most likely to want to do something that might counter my own wishes.
That might be a good thing, though. It will teach me how to resolve these conflicts without resorting to yelling, stomping my feet or cutting off contact. That seems to be the way of the world lately.
No, when you’re dealing with someone you love, you find better ways to solve your differences. You spend more time trying to understand their point of view. You adjust your point of view if you realize you didn’t have enough information to have solid ground. You consider all the possibilities and arrive at the right one.
That’s not giving up; that’s getting better.
David Trinko is editor of The Lima News, a division of AIM Media Midwest. Reach him at 567-242-0467, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.