Lent Devo

“One of these days, Alice, Pow!  Right to the moon!”

I never liked Jackie Gleason’s “The Honeymooners” growing up.  It made me nervous.  Whether I was too young or too literal to be comfortable with Ralph Kramden’s bluster or just too sensitive and too neurotic to metabolize the dichotomy of love and hate, who knows?  Whatever the reason, I knew intimidation when I saw and heard it.  To paraphrase a line from “South Pacific,” I hated bullies and I couldn’t understand why the show was so popular.   I still don’t but I understand we all use intimidation in one form or another.

Whether it’s “pulling rank” at work or in our family, wielding a superior knowledge base or perceived morality in a debate, or using some passive aggressive technique or threat of withheld affection in a relationship, we’re all guilty of some form of intimidation and have probably felt intimidated or pressured ourselves at one time or another.  If you’ll pause a moment to recall and examine, I think you’ll realize those were not our most shining moments nor our happiest.  No one likes to be forced into anything. 

Lent is a time when we can and should cut this cancer out of our lives.

Undue influence or influence stemming from some form of intimidation doesn’t come from the philosophy of love Jesus taught.  And while he didn’t teach or preach a laissez faire, live and let live existence, he did say we were to love our neighbor as ourselves and lay down our very lives for our friends.  We were also supposed to love our enemies.  This, I’m sure, would extend to those whose wills or tastes or opinions oppose our own.  Beyond the benefits for others, like so many of Jesus’s other precepts, putting aside intimidating tactics has benefits for us too.

Merely decreasing these practices frees us from the burden of a responsibility for others’ actions.  Staying out of their “business” and loving them for who or what they are gives us the bandwidth to be the best version of ourselves.  Consider a day where you don’t concern yourself with swaying the opinion or actions of anyone and you’ll discover a day with less stress, less frustration and less worry about things you just perhaps ought not to be in the middle of.  Perhaps your inner Ralph Kramden can simply relax.  And that’s a good thing.



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