Tuesday, March 4, 2014
On the Meaning of Lent and Giving Up Facebook
Tonight at midnight marks the first day of Lent. For those who do not know about Lent, it is the spiritual time for Christians that spans the 40 days before Easter. It is a time of reflection and repentance, moderation and sacrifice. It is a time to reflect on the life of Jesus Christ and the mark he left on the world.
I was born and raised a Catholic, but fell away from the church in my adult life. Some would say I am a "non-practicing Catholic." Mind you, I in no way fell away from God, and in fact I feel a stronger spiritual connection now more than ever. I just fell away from the Church. But that's another story for another day, and is not really important in this context.
What is important is that the Easter season is my favorite "spiritual" season. Next to Christmas, of course. :)
During Christmas, I am always excited and rejuvenated. I enjoy thinking about and celebrating the birth of Jesus. I feel like a kid again during the Christmas season, because I am reminded of all of the traditions my Mother started for us while we were young, and the new traditions that were started as we grew older. It's a time filled with family and friends and traditions, and is generally a very happy time for me.
Easter, on the other hand, is more of a reflective time. I tend to go inward, and think more about my spiritual life and my relationship with God. It is a somber time as I remember the horrible punishment Jesus endured, and how poorly he was treated, and how he was ridiculed and discriminated against. I get very sad when I think about how alone he must have felt. Yes, he was the Son of God, but he was also a human being. And the pain he endured, both mentally and physically, must have been unbearable. And then I am reminded that there are many in our own neighborhoods who are experiencing the same kind of emotional and physical pain today. It is all very sad, really, and makes me extremely grateful for the life I have.
So, getting back to Lent, it is a tradition for me, as for many Christians, to "give something up" during Lent. It is supposed to be something that is very hard to do, and will be very uncomfortable. Usually I try giving up chocolate, or swearing, or some other superfluous thing. And usually I can't make it to Easter. Forty days is like an eternity for me to try to do something consistently. Heck, I can't even succeed with seven-day whitening strips!
This year, though, I want things to be different. I need things to be different. I'm not a young chick anymore. I'm getting older, and each year goes by faster and faster and faster. I'm spending too much time on unimportant things, and not enough time on the things that mean the most to me. I am busy with work and family, and I'm not spending the extra time I have on the things that are most important to me. I'm so, so afraid that I am going to reach the end of my life and be filled with regret.
So this year I am going to do something different. I am going to give something up for Lent, but at the same time I am going to honor myself by doing something for me. For forty whole days. Some may say that this is not the "proper way to honor God," but I would disagree. How best to honor God then by honoring myself, who was made in His own image?
So here's my plan for Lent: I'm giving up Facebook. For forty whole days. I'm not going to visit Facebook to see what my friends and family are up to, I'm not going to visit Facebook to play the time suck that is Candy Crush, and I'm not going to post status updates.
I will, however, use that time to write and reflect. And some of that writing will include daily updates here on this blog. Trust me, I spend a LOT of time on Facebook, so there will be much time to spare.
In some eyes, this might seem inconsequential and not really a sacrifice at all. But you have no idea. As I said, I spend a lot of time on Facebook, and zero time writing. Which is my passion, and what I feel my Soul wants most to do. Giving up Facebook will be very hard. Making myself sit down to write will be very hard. I don't hold much self-discipline, so this will be a true test for me. But I really want to do it, because I feel that it holds some real value for my life.
So, as of midnight tonight, I'll be away from Facebook. (That's just a little over three hours! Eek!) And I'll plan to go back on Easter Sunday. Maybe. I may find out at the end of this exercise that my priorities have shifted, and that growth will have occurred. That is my prayer.
I invite you to follow along on this journey of mine. You can subscribe to this blog over there in the side bar -- you can subscribe for email updates, or RSS feed updates. Or you can just add journalkeeper.com to your favorites and check in every day. It's up to you! But I hope you'll join me either way. I have a feeling I will need LOTS of encouragement.
Thanks for reading. Be well.