Tag Archives: giving up

Giving Up for Lent: Overcommitment

In the forty days of Lent the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd has suggested forty things to give up for Lent. For number ten the author suggests giving up Overcommitment. To quote the author, “Do less better and accomplish more.”

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Many of us, certainly I need help with this one. Slowing down and not having a long “to do” list is just plain hard for me. When my children were small and growing up, I was juggling being a full time pastor, mom and wife. Plus there were all the other church and community demands. Days off were few and far between. I tried so hard to be all things to all people. I was multi-tasking, juggling commitments and just trying to keep my head above the water. This was before the 24/7 of the internet and cell phones.

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I had not work life balance. Almost everything was work, work, work. I found myself with an office that was more homey than my home. The time came when I realized my children were growing up and I was missing it.

Now even with my mindfulness, I still have issues with overcommitment. Our culture and certainly the church often values what we do by how busy we are. Balance isn’t necessarily considered a value. Yet, we can not do what we do well, when we are so overcommitted we can not get things done. It is truly better to do less better.

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How do we do that? By saying no, more than we say yes. Know who and what we are saying yes to in our lives. God, family, self care. When those things are our priority, everything else falls into place. Lent of all seasons make this a little bit more dicey. Yet, the challenge to give up overcommitment is ours today. So, I will continue to check my calendar and commit to less, that I might live faithfully in all that I do. I am truly, graced to serve.

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Giving up for Lent: People Pleasing

The next thing to give on the list of forty things is to give up People Pleasing. I suspect that would be helpful for many people. The website lists that challenge this way:

6. People Pleasing – I can’t please everyone anyways. There is only one I need to strive to please.

Giving up “people pleasing” is difficult for many reasons. On the one hand, what exactly is wrong with pleasing people? If what I do gives joy and delight to my children or my grandchildren or my husband or family or friends why should I give that up? On the other hand, if the burden of pleasing family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, the boss or whoever makes me anxious and afraid why wouldn’t I give it up?

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I am of the age, that people pleasing was part of what cultural expected of women. I was encouraged to be “nice” and to “get along” and to “not stir the pot” or “ask too many questions” and to do what it took to make myself acceptable as a woman in a man’s world. With the personality, it didn’t always work well. Nonetheless the voices in my head certainly encourage me to try and make everyone happy.

Now, I know I cannot, just like all of us know that. I suspect, many of us still try. Most of us want to be liked and one way or another, depending on the situation, we may please people so that we will be liked. Often the pleasing other people means that we get lost in other’s expectations and we lose our own sense of self and purpose.

As I was pondering how it was I found ways not to give in to my own tendency to give in to pressure to please people I ran across these seven strategies.

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Good advice for anyone who is looking to live authentically and faithfully. People pleasing means that I, you, we end up giving more of our life and energy to what other people want and not near enough to what we want and what God wants. It is not selfish or self-centered to be careful about how we spend our time and our resources. It is not selfish or self-centered to be clear about who we are, what is important to us and how we choose to live our lives. That is honesty and faithfulness.

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Paul says it well, it is not people approval we need, but God’s. God has called each of us to a life of faith and authentic living. Today, let’s give up people pleasing and take on a life of loving and serving God. I truly am graced to serve.

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Impatience

The Lutheran Church of Good Shepherd posted forty things to give up for Lent. I am blogging each of the 40 days of Lent as I reflect on what to give up. Day four is to give up “impatience.”

As the blog lists number four as impatience, it also states, “God’s timing is the perfect timing.” My first response to that sentences is “WHAT?” The second is “REALLY???” I understand the sentiment, but in the midst of the some of my most difficult moments in life, I am not sure how I would have responded that “God’s timing is the perfect timing.”

Doesn’t it sound like a trite phrase that someone says when they have no clue: about life, about pain, about grief, about fear or uncertainty. When I popped the word impatience into a search engine and asked for images, this was the first that that came up:
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Impatiens, not impatience came up. I immediately smiled. Now, I happen to love impatiens, the flower. They are perfect for the shady area on my back deck. I just didn’t expect to “google” the image impatience and come up with flowers. Flowers seem to be an image for all things going well, not when life is falling apart and a person is impatient to change whatever is happening. The dictionary defines it as “the tendency to be impatient; or irritability or restlessness.”

It is true, we tend to be in such a hurry and are so restless and snippy when things don’t happen quick enough. It seems like we can’t wait to grow up, then we can’t wait to retire, we are impatient for “life to happen” whatever it is we envision that life to be. We miss things because in our impatience we don’t attention, or at least I don’t.

Today I had my hair cut. The beautician was “behind” and so I had to wait half an hour before she would be done with the client before me. She was most apologetic. I was not in a hurry. In fact my husband and I have worked hard not to be in “a hurry” whenever we are shopping or waiting in line. The only thing impatience does is make me more irritable and it doesn’t make the line or the wait go any faster.

So, back to giving up impatience for Lent. While the saying “God’s timing is perfect timing” seems trite, perhaps it points to a deeper truth. Trying to force circumstances and time to do what we want them to usually doesn’t work and honestly, often makes things worse. Waiting for clarity, waiting for a sense about decisions and waiting and just being can be true gifts.

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Perhaps this is what is meant by “God’s timing is perfect timing.” The season of Lent means waiting, pondering, praying, meditating and finding a stillness that “lets the mud settle and the water clear.” In the clarity, giving up impatience, our life can unfold before us. Maybe that is why Jesus spent “forty” days in the wilderness. Rushing the process might have meant no clear sense of calling or vision. He came out of the desert ready to be in ministry.

So I shall continue to work at giving up “impatience.” I will allow space in my head and heart so that clarity might occur about my life and what God has in store for. me. On this fourth day of Lent, I continue to be graced to serve.

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Your Comfort Zone

Today is the second day of Lent. I am blogging each of the forty days as one of my spiritual practices. I got the idea from the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd’s suggestion of forty things to give up for Lent. Instead of the usual chocolate or coffee or meat, giving up things that keep me from God seemed a good challenge. I wanted to share those here.

The second thing to give up for Lent was “your comfort zone.” Now I don’t know about you, but I like my comfort zone just fine, thank you very much. What does it mean to give up my comfort zone? Yet this is the task for day two of Lent.

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Moving out of my comfort zone challenges me to look at my life and my spirit and ask if my comfort zone is helping me grow? Is my comfort zone keeping me from becoming all God has created me to be? Traditionally, the first Sunday of Lent begins with story of Jesus’ temptations. In the gospel of Mark it says after Jesus has been baptized, “At once the Spirit forced Jesus out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan.” (Mark 1: 12-13 Common English Bible, CEB)

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I wonder how hard it was for Jesus to get out of his comfort zone and hang out in the wilderness for forty days? At the river Jordan how wonderful it must have been to come out of the water and hear the voice of God claiming him as God’s beloved. In that moment, the Spirit goes from blessing Jesus, to forcing him to go where maybe he didn’t want to go.

Perhaps Jesus understood that he could not truly embrace his call, embrace his ministry unless he got outside his comfort zone. Jesus’ time in wilderness may have helped him see his weaknesses, his blind spots where he was most likely to be tempted. Facing those temptations strengthened him and it could only happen if he was willing to get out of what was comfortable.

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The same is true for me. If I am not willing to think new thoughts, go new directions, try new things and get out of my ruts or my comfort zone then I miss so much of life itself. I miss the possibility that I have not heard the still small voice of God that may challenge me to live differently or more deeply or more faithfully.

I don’t know about you, but I have many ruts. What if I drove a different way to work? Or read a different version of the Bible? Or what a different channel for the news or read a different news source? What if I listened harder and spoke less? What if I prayed, listening for God’s guidance and opening my heart more deeply to the Divine Spirit?

Today, I am going to get out of my comfort zone and open myself to the new possibilities that God has in store for me. With the love of God, I am graced to serve.

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