Self-denial. That’s why I… celebrate isn’t the right word… participate(?) in Lent. I’m not Catholic, or any other Christian denomination that forces (again, probably not the right word) it’s followers to fast. (Which probably explains my vocabulary issues.) I mean, I usually go out of my way to avoid any sort of religious tradition – a lesson I learned from the folly of the Pharisees.
So, the reason I do practice(?) Lent is because we all should suffer the lack of that which is often overly important to us. My pastor likes to joke that you could have a fast from wearing black socks, but if you don’t frequently wear black socks, you’re not really giving anything up. Food is often what is fasted(?). Most Catholics give up meat. On Fridays. (Hence all the fast food fish sandwich commercials on TV right now… Because fish isn’t meat. But I digress.)
Last year, after examining my dietary intake, I decided to give up (soda) pop – I was drinking a lot of it. It hurt. Bad. Lots of tea and/or coffee. One other year I tried to fast eating… for Lent. Needless to say I didn’t make it; I gave up on the fifth day.
This year I gave up Facebook – it was the first thing I checked on my phone when I woke up and the last thing I checked on my phone before going to bed. Whenever a notification popped up, bathroom breaks, boring meetings, you name it, and Facebook was a part of it… a distraction from the hear and now, and a way for me to get constant feedback about my life, hopes, and dreams that I shared with my “friends.”
I have replaced the time spent posting random tidbits, with posting on this very blog you are reading. I replaced checking likes and comments on Facebook with checking likes and comments (and visitors/views) on my blog. I replaced getting “news” and opinions from my friends with reading a Google News feed. I have also been making more, intentional, direct contact with friends and family via Facebook Messenger – really the only major change to come out of this “fast” (as far as I can tell).
It seems that no matter what I cut out of my life for forty-some odd days of Lent, I find something to replace it with. Honestly, it’s seems to be little more than an exercise in creativity. For that reason, this may be the last year I choose to give anything up for Lent.
Fasting food has been the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. I do fast for a day or two (or at least I used to, I’m trying to get back on that), three at most (other than that failed attempt of doing it for Lent a few years ago). I will continue to do this, because it’s hard. Jesus advocated fasting… It’s a biblical principle. It causes us to push past our most primal desires – mind over matter (which is a good way to help build one’s “faith muscles”).
Giving up Facebook, although seeming noble, doesn’t cut it, especially when it can be so easily replaced. The closest thing I get to replacing food is a cough drop or a hot chocolate. I’m not even sure I will continue, if I do it will probably be to find yet another source of pride in having completed it. Only tine will tell how I deal with this.