February 14, 2018. Valentine’s Day. Ash Wednesday. The beginning of the Lenten season of the Christian liturgical calendar.

I grew up as a Southern Baptist, and my church never specifically talked about Lent. I honestly can’t even remember if we lit special candles each Sunday leading up to Easter Sunday or not. That’s how little importance my home church placed on it. I always thought it was strictly a “Catholic thing”, and since I’m a Protestant I never felt the need to look into the whole ordeal. But now that I’m older and have learned about the observance of Lent, I can’t believe I brushed it aside for so long.

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Some quick facts about Lent:

  • Beginning on Ash Wednesday, the Lenten season lasts 40 days minus Sundays and ends on Easter Sunday
    • This is a significant number that parallels two events of spiritual testing in the Holy Bible: the 40 days of wandering in the wilderness by the Israelites, and Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness after fasting for 40 days
  • Christians usually use this time to fast, repent, practice moderation, self-denial, and spiritual discipline
  • The purpose is to set aside time to reflect on Jesus Christ – His life, His ministry, His suffering, His sacrifice, His death, burial, and resurrection

Why I believe observing Lent is important:

  • Lent is a period of time that we are intentionally setting our minds and our hearts on a subject matter that is so essential to the basics of our faith
  • In Western culture, we rarely ever deny ourselves of anything
  • The self-denial of anything for the 40-day time frame allows us to identify with what Christ has done for all men and women. Jesus denied Himself for His entire earthly life by coming as a man and sacrificing His life on the cross for us.

Thoughts on Fasting:

  • Fasting is deliberate abstinence that requires discipline and perseverance
  • Fasting is not about food, it’s about separation from anything that keeps you from spending quality time with our Creator
  • Fasting is not about just abstaining, but about turning to God; it opens yourself up to hear from God.
  • “Fasting aligns us with God, not God with us.” – John Bevere

 

I want to reach for God the way I reach for my phone – when I’m bored, when I’m uncomfortable, when I need answers or entertainment, when I’m lonely and need someone to talk to. – Cory Asbury

What I’m fasting from for Lent 2018: all social media

  • No Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat stories (thanks to Snapchat’s most recent update, I have no desire to watch anyone’s stories anyway)

What I’m making time for during Lent 2018: Intentional Bible study and time with God

  • I’m doing the She Reads Truth Lent Study in Exodus with my sister this year and it’s been so life-giving! I love being able to discuss the scriptures and lessons with my sister even though she’s away at college doing her thing too. Here’s what my daily reading activity looks like:
    • Read the assigned scriptures for the day and write down the ones that I like, feel are related to a main theme, and want to remember and reflect on
    • Read my bible’s commentary on the verses and write down any important truths or themes that I find. I use an ESV Student Study Bible from Crossway.
    • Read the She Reads Truth commentary/devotional and read any extra scriptures that are mentioned. Reflect and think about how the words I’ve read apply to our lives, and how I need to walk out those written truths in my own life.

How I’m doing it:

  • Only direct Snapchats and work-related peeks are allowed
  • Moved all social media apps to a folder on the last page of my phone
  • Logged out of all accounts on my iPhone, iPad, and Laptop (I was going to have my roommate reset all of my passwords, but I really wanted to test my own discipline here and will only turn to this option as a last resort if I become weak and lack self-control)

Why I’m doing this:

  • I know for a fact that social media takes up most of my time, and that time is not *just* from actually being on it. The amount of time that I find myself thinking about what I’m going to post on Instagram, how it will look with the rest of my feed, how many people will ‘like’ it, or how many notifications I’ll get from any post on any platform is absolutely ridiculous.
  • I track my daily screen time using this app, and my average screen time per day is four hours. Granted, some of this time is spent being productive, reading, checking emails and keeping up with events and schedules galore. But it doesn’t matter what excuses I come up with because I want to cut this time in half.
  • I don’t want to think about all of the numbers that are associated with social media: how many followers I have, how many likes a photo will get, how many favorites and retweets that some 280 character word-vomit of mine gets on the internet. I don’t mean to think about it, but I know we all do so I’m not in the minority here. At the end of the day, none of that superficial validation from numbers matters. My identity, my value, and my worth is rooted in Christ, not numbers, and that is the only validation that truly matters. 
  • I don’t want to investigate anyone’s life but my own. I want to take this season to truly reflect on how I’m spending my time and how I’m loving my people. I follow so many people on so many different platforms who I would never interact with in real life if I had the chance, and it’s just truly not serving any purpose. Hannah Brencher once said “you can either investigate someone’s life or you can invest in someone’s life” and that simple sentence hit me hard. I don’t want to be that person who follows you on the screen but has no real interaction with you. I want to be the person who shows up off the screen, and I can’t do that if I’m sitting and scrolling for multiple hours a day.

As I’m writing this, I haven’t been on social media in 5 days, and I can definitely notice all of the ways that social media takes over my daily activities. I keep wondering what I’m missing out on, and hating that I’m temporarily missing Hannah Brencher and Phylicia Masonheimer‘s words of wisdom. I can’t help but wonder if anyone’s even really going to notice that I’m not active on any of the platforms. But then I’m reminded of another sentence from HB that’s stuck with me: “No one is going to mourn the loss of who you don’t become except you.”

I pray that this Lenten season opens my eyes and my heart to better align myself with God and His provision. May we always remember God’s glory in everything we do.

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