So. The short of the matter is, I’ve given up facebook for Lent.
The problem is, I announced that I was doing it on my facebook status.
I’m not claiming to be “religious” — I didn’t do it to get pats on the back from anyone (myself included) or for the attention (the wow-factor), and I can’t even claim that I’m “faithfully” using that time for introspection or prayer (although it wouldn’t hurt).
It’s actually simpler than that. I find myself turning to social media — e-mail, blogs, and facebook — when I feel the desire to interact with someone, to have a relationship, to communicate. And that’s all well and good. But sometimes I think it might be my go-to reaction, the thing I do instead of calling a friend or meeting face-to-face… or stopping to pray. As a Christian, I believe that God calls us into relationship with Him. Now what kind of relationship is it if I don’t spend time and effort on nurturing that relationship? (Answer: not a very good one.)
But by announcing my departure from fb for the season of Lent, I stepped into a questionable zone and I need to stop and look at my motives.
The message (sermon, homily… whatever you want to call it) at the Ash Wednesday service was based on Jesus’ instructions about righteousness:
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” [Matthew 6:1, New International Version]
The pastor talked about how many folks (and yes, on facebook!) were discussing what they were giving up for Lent, and how this *could* be seen as announcing ones righteousness aloud in the temple and on the street corner – a sort of look at me! Look what I am doing! I was horrified to think that my announced absence from fb might have a root in that. Whether or not it does (and I didn’t want it to be!), it can certainly read that way to people. Now, the pastor knows me pretty well and I think she knows that was not my intent when I posted my status.
I actually gave up facebook for Lent last year, too, but I did not announce my departure. I’m rather ashamed to admit that I was quiet about it because I didn’t think I could stay away for that long. I didn’t want to say I was doing it and then fail right in front of everyone. (Pride rears its ugly head.) But I felt badly about missing friends’ birthdays during those 7 weeks. I didn’t want them to feel ignored. (Honestly? For the most part, I doubt they noticed).
For me, fb is a huge time suck. On a regular visit, I might go on for “just 5 minutes” but that can turn into 90 minutes pretty easily. There’s always plenty of things that need to get done in a day and whatever time I have gets filled SOMEHOW, with SOMETHING. I am trying to reclaim my time as a gift from God and to use it more wisely. Now if only I had worded it that way on my facebook status!
Because it’s less of a “giving up for Lent” thing and more of an intentional focus on what God wants me to discover about my relationship with Him.
And that was the message at church on Wednesday night: to examine your heart, your life, and ask if there is something in the way of having a relationship with God.