Lent 2018 started this February 14. The fact that Ash Wednesday also fell on Valentine’s Day wasn’t lost on me. Both dates basically meant the same to me anyways: death to self. Last year, I fasted from social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Messenger, BBM, and WhatsApp) and carbs. This year, I’m continuing the trend of fasting from social media, but I have also added fasting from people, entertainment, and bitterness. Fasting from people means that I can only hang out with people twice a week. Any time I ask someone to hang out with me or if others invite me to hang out with them, that would count as hanging out. However, if I was isolating myself, I have to force myself to hang out. Going to the gym or my discipleship meetings wouldn’t count. I have a bad relationship with people. I tend to find my validation from people and that’s not a good thing. In so doing, I have a tendency to swing to either extremes of wanting their validation to completely avoiding people. Fasting from entertainment means that I am only allowed 2 hours or two episodes or one movie per day. This is to prevent me from binge watching on Netflix. Fasting from bitterness means I’m going to have a 5 minute rule. I may not be able to control my bitter reaction to something happening. But, after 5 minutes, I can choose to either continue feeling bitter or find a solution and let it go. My goal is to let go of bitterness every time I have the option of doing so.
I sometimes ask myself why I have this tendency to make my life a living hell by trying to do all of these hard things. I think a huge part of it is that I actually love Lent. Lent is one of the few times I have where I can have a prolonged reflection on the love of Christ and my desire to be more like him. I’m not perfect but I would like to be. I don’t mean perfect in the normal way we normally think of perfect though. I mean it more in a “I want to be whole” sense. I tend to live a fragmented, compartmentalized life. I’m trying to gather all the pieces and make it come together in some form of harmony.
About three weeks into this prolonged reflection, I feel rather disconnected from the world. Being away from social media, I have this feeling that I don’t know what’s going on anymore. In some ways, it has been difficult. In some ways, it is a reminder about the illusion of closeness that social media can have on my life. Just because I know what you did or what you ate does not mean I know what’s actually going on with you. I’m reminded to not settle for superficiality.
In some ways, I’ve also felt a sense of pride and empowerment. It’s nice to know that I have been able to resist going back to social media even though there’s a part of me that wants to quit every day. However, there’s also another part of me that is starting to be okay with the not knowing what’s going on around me. If it’s worth knowing, I’ll know it. Or at least I try to tell that to myself.
I’m looking forward to the lessons this Lenten season will teach me. I feel that I’m only just scratching the surface about what this time of preparation and rejuvenation can and will bring.
I look forward to knowing what happens when I let things go.