Real Help for Real Living: I gave this up and it significantly improved my life

Anthony MarcianoGrowing up, I have strong memories of the church season of Lent. I was instructed by my mother to give up something.  Wanting to keep mom happy, every year I gave up cake, cookies, candy and ice cream.  In reality, giving up cake, candy and ice cream was no big deal.  I could take or leave them.  But the cookies were another matter.  I’ve never met a cookie I didn’t like.

In 2015, I gave up artificially sweetened beverages for Lent. Instead, of Crystal Light, I opted for water.  It was very hard.  I felt like an alcoholic going through DT’s.  I missed it so much that I planned to rise early on Easter Sunday and drink a glass of Crystal Light.  But three weeks into Lent, I no longer wanted it.  Today, I drink water, not because I have to, but because I choose to.

In 2016, I went on the Daniel diet. I gave up dairy products, meat, cookies and coffee.  I ate vegetables and lentils. It was hard, but I felt better.  My knees stopped making funny noises.

In January, I heard someone talk about negativism. They thought they were a positive person until they realized they rolled their eyes at things their husband or child did.  I began to look at my life and realized I am also negative.  This year, I’ve decided to give up negativism for Lent.  That’s not as easy as it looks.  I can be a critical, ungrateful person.

When I was entering junior high, my sister gave me a book entitled, “2001 insults, an insult for every occasion.” Being 13, I loved the book.  The only insult I remember is, “He builds himself up by tearing other people down.”  Being critical reveals my own insecurity.  It also reveals that I’ve misunderstood that I am fully accepted by God because of what He did, not because of what I do.  Therefore, I am deeply loved, complete and secure and need not worry about anyone else’s acceptance of me.

Recently, I was invited to a dinner where they served salad, vegetables, pasta and chicken. I complained to myself that the dinner plate was too small to put all that food on.  Didn’t the host know I like to eat.  It took a few hours before I realized how ungrateful I was.  There are people in our community who would have gladly participated in that dinner.  They weren’t invited.  I was.  Instead of being grateful, I complained about the dinner plate being too small to adequately hold the food.

One more thing to give up – gossip. In the church, we call it “prayer requests.”  In truth, we are not praying to God to intervene in a situation.  We are talking to each other about what we just heard.  Gossip is complaining about someone to a third party.  We never talk to the person we are having conflict with.  Why are we so scared of conflict?

There is a Scripture verse that says, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.”

This Lent, I want you to join me and give up negativism and gossip, and replace it with kindness. Let me know how you do.

I’ll be back in two weeks. Until then, live well my friend.