As Lent began, I was thinking a lot about “what to give up.” I had two great ideas that I immediately vetoed: television and meat. Why?
I don’t live alone.
I can’t force my Lenten disciplines (or the spiritual disciplines I choose at other times of the year) on anyone else. They are between me and God. I can ask my husband if he would be willing to join me, but I can’t say “No, honey, you can’t watch TV for 40 days.” I am not his parent. He can choose spiritual disciplines that are appropriate for him. Likewise with meat, I don’t want to tell him “We aren’t going to eat any meat for 40 days.” This would be much more of a penance for him than it would for me anyway, since I have been a vegetarian in the past, but he would be a carnivore if he could.
His relationship with God is just that: his. I would be selfish to try to make him do things that I think are good for my relationship with God. There is always room to grow, but growth can’t be forced. Learning this is important for my own growth.