My Lenten Truth ~ A Sacrifice or a Gift?

Lent (Latin: Quadragesima – English: Fortieth) is a solemn religious observance in the liturgical calendar of many Christian denominations that begins on Ash Wednesday and covers a period of approximately six weeks before Easter Sunday. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, atonement and self-denial.
Source: Wikipedia

So, here we are the week before Easter and I am sitting and reflecting on Lent and what it means to me and how this time has effected me over the past several weeks. I find a couple of things interesting in the definition above. One being that a lot of people believe that only Catholics observe the Lenten season, which is clearly not the case, as He sacrificed His life for ALL of us, and I also like the last sentence about what the “traditional purpose” of Lent is to a believer. SELF-DENIAL
I can honestly say that this Lent could possibly be the first one in my life that I actually felt a true transformation as a believer and as someone who desperately wants to know Christ more intimately.
Now, when I say transformation, that does not mean that all of the sudden I am “fixed” or that I don’t struggle daily with being a better person and that I don’t make mistakes on a regular basis. It’s going to take a lot longer than 40 days to accomplish all that!
What I mean by being transformed during this Lenten season is because what I chose to deny myself of during this sacred time: FACEBOOK! I never thought I could do it, I dreaded it, I even thought about ways around it…but I did and it was well worth it!
It actually sounds pretty silly when you think about what Jesus sacrificed for me and all I sacrificed was a social media site of minute by minute postings from my 200+ closest “friends” telling me where they are, who they are with and what they are eating! (I joke only because I do it too)!
Oh, and I have to throw in my little disclaimer since I had several people “call me out” and say that they saw that I was on FB during Lent. Jesus knows my truth, but for the record, I deleted the app from my phone and iPad (as a form of discipline), I did not post and did not look at other people’s posts, pics, etc. The only thing I would do on FB during Lent was occasionally check my messenger, as that was a way a few people could contact me, manage an event that I’m hosting and to work on my ministry page.

Giving up Facebook for Lent was a challenge presented to me by my husband because he would regularly see me scrolling through these posts and “liking” them or “sharing” them or talking about them or being confused by them or getting sensitive about them and on and on…and I think it was getting under his skin a bit. When we go on trips or even to a restaurant he thought I was more interested in posting where we were on FB instead of just enjoying the moment with him. Not a totally true assessment but a fair one at times.

In the past, I have tried to give up a food item or a drink or I would just implement reading a Lenten devotional at night with the family. Those things aren’t wrong or bad to do, as any type of self-denial, prayer or act of atonement is a great way to prepare us for His death and resurrection. However, in my case, those things just didn’t really prepare me or transform me in a way that made me truly feel a difference in my soul. Giving up a certain food made me hungry and it would remind me of why I was doing it, but ultimately it did not do what I believe Jesus wanted for me during this time of year.

“Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping and mourning. Return to your God for he is merciful and compassionate.” Joel 2:12-13

So, the million dollar question is “How did giving up Facebook bring me closer to Christ?” Lent is a time to turn away from our own needs and wants in order to see a world larger than ourselves. It is a time to sacrifice so that we can gain a new appreciation for our Savior. It turns out that the world larger than me is NOT the world of Facebook!

The result of me doing this is that I did not just give up FB, but what I did was replace my time spent on it with time spent with The Lord. I had so many mornings where the first thing I did was get on FB to see the latest updates on….well, really nothing very earth shattering! Imagine that! It was a time waster and a time sucker, but I continued to do it, day in and day out!
I definitely love seeing pictures of friends and funny quips or inspirational thoughts and I love sharing my pictures and posts, etc. but, thankfully, my time was spent elsewhere these past several weeks. I spent them with God. Not just time with Him, but more time with Him…QUALITY time with Him!

I am one of those people that when I say I’m praying for you or that I will pray for your ill family member, I really do it! But, I’ll be honest, sometimes I had so many people on that list, I couldn’t remember them all. During Lent, I made a point to spend my mornings writing down my prayers in a journal, rather than simply saying them. I have listed specific names and prayer requests, people that are on my mind, my heart and plenty of prayers for myself to be a better Christian woman and human being! Doing this seems so simple but it has brought me so much closer to God every day as I pray and just give thanks to Him in writing! It takes deep thought and concentration to do this and it makes me feel like I am writing a letter to a close friend that lives far away from me (before email)! The joy and peace that I feel every day reminds me of what Jesus sacrificed for me and it makes me realize that with Him in my heart, truly listening to me…fear and worry slowly fades away. He protects me and guides me and He listens to the words that I put down on that paper every day. He knows my heart like no one else and He cares what I am “posting” to Him far more than my “friends” on FB do! Who better to have in your corner than our Creator?! I never have to worry about hurting His feelings or being too negative or asking for too much, I just write it down and send it up to Him knowing that he will not only “like” it, but He will bestow His eternal grace upon me as a result! It is a comfort that I do not think I can describe fully in this post! However, I will challenge each of you to try it. Maybe you don’t want to give up social media but I challenge you to start your day with a written prayer to God before you tap on that app!
Make it a family challenge to help kids start seeing the importance of His love versus the number of “likes” they are getting on Instagram or Re-tweets on Twitter. Someday, they will need to fall into the arms of their Father, perhaps they already desperately need that! Starting that relationship while they are young is a terrific way to build that trust with Him, especially when they are not getting that trust from their peers. I wish that I had this closeness with Him when I was younger, it would have come in handy when I was feeling insecure and struggling with my low self esteem! I am so incredibly blessed now to have Him as my unconditional lover and best friend! But, I had to do my part! He is always reaching out for us, it’s up to us to take His hand and with that comes sacrifice!

This is not a social media rant at all! I will surely be back on Facebook in the coming week, but I will have gained a new perspective on it and I will continue to start my days writing to the one that gave me life on this earth and the one that promises me eternal life with Him!
There is no royal path to God, no high tech approach to the gospel values, no easy alternative to carry our own crosses the way Jesus carried His. It begins outside of ourselves and is fulfilled by the hard way of the cross. This Lent I tried to give something up that would really make me struggle but now, I feel as though I didn’t really “give up” or sacrifice anything at all! Instead, I gained a more honest and intimate love for the one that gave it ALL up for me!

Happy Easter Friends!

“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” Luke 9:23-24