Today marks the beginning of Lent.
I grew up in the Catholic church. Today is Ash Wednesday. We always got our ashes today; the priest made the sign of the Cross on our forehead in ashes and we hoped that it would never wear off. Kind of a badge of honor.
It wasn't until much later that I learned that the ashes represented GOD working in our lives. I remember the priest always saying : "From dust you came, from dust you will return".. Didn't sound very appealing, but I still wore my ashes with pride.
The Cross on our forehead was to remind us of our brokenness, our mortality, our total dependence on God for life.
That it was God who began the process of making our lives new, of giving us purpose.
I get it now.
Lent is a time of reflection. A time to concentrate on really trying to listen to God. A time to think about all that He has done. A time to look forward to the Cross and the suffering and shame Christ experienced so that we might have life again.
For me, its also a time of confession. Asking God to show me where I miss His mark in my life. Where my actions and thoughts have offended Him. What I am like that is not showing others who JESUS is.
In the Catholic tradition, you always gave up something for Lent.
I remember as a young girl in elementary school going to Mass daily with my dad and getting to school late, where it was accepted and another way of showing others that I was perhaps a bit better than them.
As a child, I always gave up candy. Kids love candy and I certainly did. Oh how I loved the Easter basket filled with chocolate eggs and jelly beans.
As I grew up, I knew that ice cream was the thing I needed to give up.
If you know me, you know that Ice Cream is by far my most favorite food. So much so, that in college, on a bet by my friends, ate nothing but ice cream for a week (and the best part was I lost 5 lbs!!). So "giving up" ice cream seemed like a small sacrifice in comparison of the life that Jesus gave up for me.
As an adult, I remember challenging my best bud MaryKay to give up ice cream with me. Our idea of Fat Tuesday was to go to Swenson's (who remembers them?) and get a HUGE hot fudge sundae with favorite flavors.
Then I would add all sweets-now that is TOUGH...but I would do it. It was during those years that popcorn would be my "go to" snack!!
And then as time progressed I decided to give up wine, or sometimes all alcohol. By no means am I anywhere even close to being an alcoholic, but I do love my glass of wine. And as an official cheat, I always broke my Lenten fast on Saturday before Easter. I mean heck, Jesus had already died. Oh the excuses I can come up with.
So this year, continuing my tradition, I pondered what to abstain from.
I was pretty sure it wasn't going to be sweets or alcohol, because I am on weight watchers and I hardly ever have that now-so it wouldn't be hard to do.
And all of a sudden it came to me, give up Facebook.
I have become a facebook addict and I absolutely HATE it.
How much time do I waste checking Facebook everyday? How much time do you??
And what could I do with that time instead of checking what people are up to?
So as of today, I am off Facebook until whenever Easter is (sometime in April I think). You are seeing this post because I will post it to FB, but I won't see it.
And I am going to use the time I would to memorize passages of Scripture-starting with Romans 8, my favorite chapter of the Bible.
I ordered a small booklet called Less is More to use during the Lenten season from Renovare. I have read only the first day. But already I love the title. For me Less facebook is MORE of Jesus, more time to reflect on Him. Less of the things that really distract me and more time for the MOST IMPORTANT.
By no means am I trying to guilt you into thinking you have to give up something. As my daughter Kristi says: "i'm not a catholic".
What I would like to do is to challenge and encourage you to use these 6 1/2 weeks before Easter to concentrate on spending a bit more time of Jesus, a time to reflect on Him -more than you usually would. I am almost certain that if you do, you will be more blessed than you could imagine.
So grateful for this time of my hiatus from Facebook and anticipating with excitement the more I will experience my LORD.