A Remedy for Shellfish

When my 3-year-old niece won't share her toys, my sister reminds her with a playful admonition: "Don't be a shellfish!" No scolding, just a gentle reminder not to be selfish is all it takes.

Selfishness is not limited to 3-year-olds. Sometimes I need a gentle reminder not to be a shellfish too. When I constantly ignore my family's needs in favor of my own, I'm being a shellfish. When I become irritated at a request to perform a helpful task for a friend because it's an interruption of my day, I'm being a shellfish. When I use the 20-items-or-less checkout line at the grocery store even though I have 40 items in my shopping cart, I'm being a shellfish. When my prayers are focused on myself instead of others, I'm being a shellfish. (Ouch!)

Do you want to know the remedy for being a shellfish? It's simple. Think of others first. Allow others to intrude on your time, and do it cheerfully. Be purposeful in helping someone else every day. Sacrifice the best parking place just to bless someone. Encourage someone else even when you feel down. Pray for others first, before you pray for yourself.

St. Francis of Assissi said it well when he wrote this prayer:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen

My sister isn't quite as poetic as St. Francis, but the sentiment is the same, and I appreciate the reminder: "Don't be a shellfish!"