Ash Wednesday was a week ago, which means we have been in the Lenten season for seven days. If you don’t know, Lent remembers the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness and is celebrated by Christians all over the world in the weeks leading up to Easter. Traditionally Christians will choose to fast from something during Lent, modeling Jesus’ example in the wilderness.
I never grew up with any sort of tradition around Lent; I really hadn’t even heard about it until I was in seminary. In recent years, though, many of my Protestant friends have embraced Lent. It is common now to hear friends share about what they’re going to give up for Lent. Most of my friends give up some sort of food item or something associated with social media. I’m all for people giving up something for Lent, but the absence of whatever we give up should bring us closer to Jesus.
I don’t put a lot of thought into what I’m going to give up for Lent. In fact, most years I don’t give up anything. Candy doesn’t keep me from Jesus and giving up video games would be too easy since I rarely play them anyway. The night before Ash Wednesday I wasn’t planning on giving anything up, until the idea popped in my head to have completely analog mornings.
Most mornings the first thing I do is turn off my alarm and grab my phone. I’m sure most of us know what it’s like to see the glow of our cell phone before we even see the light of the sun. From the moment I woke up, my phone dominated my mornings. I would check Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. If any random thought crossed my head, I would immediately embrace that thought and research it more deeply on the Internet. My mornings, which I would like to be committed to Jesus and running, were often derailed before I even got out of bed.
So on the night of Mardis Gras I had the thought of leaving my phone plugged in by my bed until I went to work. Not only would I leave my phone plugged in, but I wouldn’t even look at it. For Lent I decided to give up going on my connected devices until I went to work. I wouldn’t check Twitter, log onto the Internet or play any games in the morning. By giving up my connected devices in the morning, that time would be set aside for Jesus and running.
It’s been a week and I haven’t looked at my phone in the morning. I haven’t really even taken out my iPad or my computer. I did break out my Kindle so that I could use it to read my One Year Bible and I found my old iPod so I could listen to music while running. I haven’t had some life-altering experience yet, but at least there’s some margin in my life to experience one. I know for a fact that nothing would change in my life if I continued to spend my mornings staring at my phone.
I didn’t have a big plan on giving up something for Lent, this just sort of snuck up on me. I know it’s from God, though, because it’s not something that I would want to do on my own. I also know it’s from God because in the past week I have spent more time with him in the morning than I had been. I may miss a lot of tweets and posts, but that’s nothing compared to what I was missing before.
What did you give up for Lent?