Responding Differently to Lint

It’s Lent, that 40-day season leading up to Easter when many Christians give up something–like chocolate, beer, their morning coffee–as a small act of fasting and self-denial and a desire to grow closer to God. Each year, I struggle to think of what I should give up, and then I feel guilty when three days later I eat, drink, or do that very thing. Still, year after year, I give it a try.

This morning, as I was getting ready for the day, I realized what I should give up for Lent this year (and perhaps permanently): Lint–or more accurately, my typical reaction to it.

“Lint?” you ask. “Seriously??” Before you close this blog and move on to watch funny videos about cats, hear me out.

While getting dressed, I noticed a bunch of lint on my pants. I stopped putting in one leg after the other and began to pull off the offending little bits of fuzz. And I felt annoyed. Picking off lint interrupts the flow of my routine and delays the process of getting dressed and on to the next thing.

It got me thinking… What other “lint” situations do I run across that disrupt my routine or delay me and bring a response of annoyance, frustration, or irritation?

  • The mom in front of me at the check-out who takes forever to pay while she juggles a toddler
  • The cereal spill all over the kitchen floor as my son gets ready for school
  • The friend who asks me to volunteer in her place because she’s not feeling well
  • The coworker’s call that comes just as I’m logging off for the day
  • The elderly man who shuffles so slowly through the crosswalk that I miss the light

When I find my eyes rolling or my blood boiling in these situations, it’s because I’m thinking about me. I have stuff to do, places to be, and schedules to keep. C’mon, people!

But what if I put myself in the other person’s shoes? Instead of sighing heavily or grumbling under my breath, I can offer an understanding smile to the frazzled mom. Or patiently tell my embarrassed son that I’ll clean up the cereal while he finishes getting ready for school. Or cheerfully answer my coworker’s late-day question and take the opportunity to ask about her sick dad.

My reaction to these types of instances can be a blessing instead of adding to the over-abundance of negativity swirling around in the world. Better yet, I can choose to see the world and everyone in it through the lens of Christ’s love so that I never view someone or their circumstance or behavior as “lint” in life.

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