The other day I asked a friend what she had given up for Lent. Her answer delighted me. She said, “I have given up trying to change people. I just want to change myself!” What a lovely idea for Lent.
I know so many people who try to change people. Husbands try to change their wives; wives try to change their husbands. Of course there are times when we all need to help others change destructive life habits like alcoholism or drug abuse but when the issue is not harmful to the person and only bothersome to someone else, why can’t we allow others to have the same freedom of choice we want for ourselves? What is the old saying, “Live and let live”?
In 1964 Senator Barry Goldwater ran for president. I was a graduate student at the University of Oklahoma. A close friend of mine at the University and I argued about politics until election day! Mainly we argued about the senatorial race. She tried to change me and I tried to change her. We argued more and more heatedly until we destroyed our friendship. We were the losers that year because we lost our precious friendship. Luckily we restored our friendship a few months later. In the 1980s my friend died tragically. I grieved terribly for my friend and the time our friendship had floundered due to our silly efforts to change each other. We lost several precious months by trying to change each other!
The next time someone asks you what you have given up for Lent, think about saying, “I am trying to give up changing people. I just need to change myself!”
There is a lot of merit in giving up chocolate or soda pop or desserts for Lent, but for this year I think I shall try to give up attempting to change other people and just try to change myself!