Monday, April 17, 2017

if you failed at lent this year

It's the week after Easter.

Can I just be completely honest for a moment?  

If you could fail at Lent, I did.  I didn't sacrifice chocolate or coffee.  I didn't commit to a Lenten reading plan.  I actually missed church three of the six weeks {that's 50% for those who are slow at math like me}.  I didn't even mention the word 'lent' to my children one single time.  See.  I told you.  If there were a Lent grading system I would get an 'F'.

Good news.  There is no Lent grading system.  Whew!  

But there was a moment last week, as I scrolled through social media perusing everyone's displays of Lent-like behavior, that I considered I should do something.  I should squeeze in a last minute fast or stay up late and plan a 5 day intensive Lent activity schedule for my family.  The thought was fleeting and I quickly grading system.

Sometimes I am so quick to forget this crucial aspect of Easter.  Jesus died for us while we were still sinners...before we completed an impressive fast or demonstrated our commitment to consistently read scripture.  It doesn't mean those things are not important.  {FYI I just published an entire book about spiritual disciplines}  It just means, if you didn't do those things - release the guilt.  If you did do those things - release the pride.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way I wanted to share some words I wrote in my journal a couple of years ago.  At that time I found myself in need of a social media fast.  I want you to know I'm back in this place again.  Maybe you are too.

For days, and sometimes weeks, at a time I do some variation of what I outline below.  Once I'm feeling like my phone knows it's place, I let it out on a short leash.  If it's still pushing me around I keep it in its box of tight parameters for a while longer.

Just because Lent is over doesn't mean we can't still engage some of the spiritual disciplines that are often reserved for that particular time of year.  I'm getting the nudge for now.  If you are too, let's be Lent losers together and see what we can gain on the other side.


The horses are galloping outside.

I hear their heavy hooves landing soft on the pasture outside the window.  I can't see them, only the single broken line of light laid across the pond.  A little farther I can make out the black silhouettes of trees barely visible.  The sky teases with a rich shade of midnight blue that is several hours too late.  Every day the world moves from blackness to deep color in those early hours.  The blanket of dawn is cozy and full of promise.  My life is too and I feel undeserving of such an offering.  

I've been inspired in countless ways lately to
write beautifully,
act beautifully,
live beautifully,
in response to the beauty I find everywhere.

Sometimes I want nothing else.  Other times I get stuck in ugly.
My ugly words,
ugly intentions,
ugly thoughts
stick to me like mud and I need a good showering off.

I know to capture a beautiful life there is no time to waste on ugly.  And I know the greatest source of ugly for me disguises itself well.
Gorgeously decorated kitchens,
perfectly prepared meals,
smiling, happy children,
gleaming homes...

What seems like a delightful diversion is really a giant roadblock in the middle of my journey towards true beauty.  If I want to live in beauty instead of just visiting it on occasion, the Pandora's box I hold can't have a hold any longer.

With the horses drawing closer outside the window, I draw a hard line for myself because the soft one in the sand had been too easy to cross, to cover up.

My phone can't have free reign anymore.
Something so small offering me a world so big.
Something so familiar carrying me farther away from myself.
Something so full of possibility standing impenetrable between me and where I really want to go.

So here's my hard line.  I will put my phone in its place.  And here's what I have to say about that.
I am the boss of the screen.  The screen is not the boss of me.
It can't tell me how to feel or what to think.
It can't plant seeds of jealousy or harvest weeds of regret.
It can't offer up an impossible standard for which I reach.
It can't steal real life moments with my family and friends in exchange for artificial ones.

A fast from social media is needed and this is what it looks like.
I may post my own stuff, but I will not peek at others.
I will share only what I consider life-giving on Facebook and Instagram.
I will exercise self-control by not scrolling or searching for anything on a screen.
Email will stay contained in its designated time slots instead of creeping into every corner of my day.

How much more would sprout up inside of me if I got outside of there.  Sometimes we need to be reminded that we have something to offer to the world and it's being stifled by all the time we spend looking obsessively for what others are offering.  I love the potential of social media.  But I also know the dangers.  Some weeks our souls need some breathing room that can only be found in a complete turning away.

I look up from the paper to see that the sun has officially brought the day.  Out beyond the green buds of the mulberry tree there are countless things to see and do.  I bet wherever you are today there is a window framing possibility for you too.  If something is keeping you from throwing open the door and running out wild and free, maybe it's time to put your something in its place too.

Here are some prompts to get you moving in that direction:
How is your current relationship with social media?  Is it life-giving or life-draining?  Is it inspiring your best or conspiring for your worst?  
What might you be missing out on in the real world in exchange for an artificial one?  
If any of this resonates with you, maybe consider fasting from social media.  The duration and parameters are between you and God but make sure you write them out and stick to them.  You’re the boss of the screen, not the other way around.

Happy Week-After-Easter y'all!  xoxo