Yeah, I did. Last year for Lent, I gave up Facebook.
Let me back up. I grew up Baptist. We don’t do Lent. I didn’t even know what it was until I got to college, and even then I was unsure about the practice. I heard it mentioned and I knew people did things like give up chocolate or soda.
Ok, whatever. Didn’t affect me.
Fast-forward two decades to last year. It was Fat Tuesday and I was sitting at my laptop, hungrily devouring everyone’s Facebook status updates, playing my various FB games, and clicking links like a fiend. I was totally addicted. By that time, I’d had my smartphone for a year and had perfected my mobile Facebooking technique. I had gone to my Bible study that morning. We were studying Genesis last year, and there was nothing directly related to Lent in our study in the weeks leading up to that day.
But as I sat there, I got one of those feelings…you know? It’s the kind of feeling when you know that God is trying to communicate something to you, but you aren’t’ sure you want to hear what He has to say, because even though you know that ultimately it’s for your good, it’s not going to be rainbows and lollipops in the interim. Yeah, one of those feelings.
I knew I had to give up Facebook for Lent. God chose to reveal this to me on Fat Tuesday afternoon. And what’s more, I felt convicted that I had to stop Right. Then. On Tuesday! Not even on Wednesday! To make things tougher, I also felt like I wasn’t supposed to post any kind of “I’m going away for a while” message because the whole purpose of this was to draw me closer to Christ through my sacrifice of Facebook, not to draw attention to my absence. Wow. Am I the only one who thinks that sounds super-selfish and “First World Problem”ish? Yeah, I thought so.
In addition to stopping the laptop time on FB, I also decided that it would be in my best interest if I uninstalled the app from my phone. But you want to know something weird? God left me a loophole. For real. A couple of days before this all transpired, I’d sent out some Facebook e-mails to some different people about a fundraising banquet for the Christian organization Young Life, and I hadn’t heard back from them. I felt ok with still receiving the FB email notifications since I was waiting for responses. Plus, you only get the notifications regarding your own posts and activities, and I realized that the notifications would quickly dry up as my activity ceased.
Over the course of the 40 days I received a half dozen or so FB emails from concerned friends who were wondering about my absence. My practice was to give a quick reply back via e-mail (still not surfing FB) about what was going on.
I was amazed at the end of 40 days. Honestly? I didn’t miss it all that much, and I’m glad I did it. I think God used that time to break me of my dependence upon other people’s affirmation and reactions to what I wrote on FB. (Writing that last sentence was enlightening for me, because I’m wondering if I’m falling into the same trap now with this blog and my Twitter affinity.)
As of right now (Tuesday evening), I don’t think I’m giving up anything for Lent, but that can all change in a heartbeat. If I’m not here on Thursday, you’ll know why, and in that case, I’ll see you on April 8.