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Growing up in the Episcopal church, I always knew we were supposed to “give up” something for Lent (and then really look forward to Sundays where we can enjoy whatever it was we were fasting).  Those forty days leading up to Easter were often marked by loosening my grip on chocolate, Coke, or a favorite TV show (maybe Saved by the Bell or Fresh Prince?! ha!).

“Giving up something” or “taking on something” that would honor God and prepare our hearts for Christ’s resurrection was a normal family topic of conversation around our dinner table.   Although at the time I didn’t fully understand the significance of such spiritual rhythms, I now deeply appreciate the seeds of faith that were planted through the Lenten practices of my immediate and church family.

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I’m no longer in the liturgical setting of worship, but still I find myself craving a season of “fasting” in order to make more room in my life for the One who truly satisfies.  

Lent offers a symbolic opportunity for all of us to experience such a fast: letting go of something inferior to make room for something Superior.  Making room for the spirit to feast on more of God, because truly, fasting leads to a sort of feasting.

Sounds ridiculous, but this Lent, I decided to fast my personal Facebook account.  Facebook had become an addicting noise in my life; a noise that started to rob me of the life I wanted.  To be honest, instead of being a fun social outlet, it had become a nearly irresistible instinct to grab my phone and scroll through status updates of “friends” at all hours of the day–and night.  Whenever there was a dull moment, you could guess I’d be scrolling my news feed.

What am I looking for in a Facebook fast?

  • Time.
  • Awareness.
  • Self-control.
  • Quietness.

I want to lay down my compulsive twitch of every-moment-I’m-not-busy-I’m-checking-status-updates, and pick up an invitation to rest, to savor, to settle down…

  • INTO LOVE,
  • INTO MEANING,
  • INTO WISDOM,
  • INTO SIMPLICITY.

I want to reclaim my life for an awareness of God’s presence and His wisdom, not an awareness of all that everyone everywhere is doing at every-moment of the day.

It’s been six days of no personal Facebook surfing.

Since I’ve given it up?  It honestly feels like I let go of heavy a weight.  I feel more free.  I am internally quiet.  I use my phone, my phone doesn’t use me.  I am enjoying my kids and am far more attentive to them.  I am using my “extra time” to listen to my kids laugh, to look into their little eyes and really listen, to dig deeper into the Word, and to stay focused on the current tasks or people in front of me.

I end today’s post by this stirring quote (by Matt Smethurst) that describes in better words than mine, the point of it all:

“Our aim during Lent is something like a wilderness experience. We want to shake up our lives significantly enough that when we reach for our usual comforts and grasp a fistful of air, we’re forced to cling to Christ—his body, his blood.

We want to see just how upside down our world really is as our “important things” prove to be perishable goods, as the light shines on our “righteousness” and exposes the layers of “self” beneath the surface, and as our “busy” lives are shown to simply lack wisdom.

The desire is a new lease on life, a view into the vast world of God, a deep breath and long look above the tree line of self-absorption. So in Lent we focus on getting away from the life of flesh and into the life of the Spirit, denying our ways and embracing God’s.” read more by Matt Smethurst here.  

Have you ever practiced “giving up” or “taking on” for Lent?  What meaning did it hold for you, then or now?

(Click for a Free Lenten Devotional)