25 February, 2009

iPods and Lent

This year for Lent I am giving up Facebook and my iPod - two seemingly random things to intentionally lay aside for the next 40 days, but for me they keep me from fully loving people as I am called to.

I can't (or don't want to) tally up the amount of time I spend on Facebook every week. It’s time that distracts me from other things. Facebook promotes this idea of false intimacy. I can look at your wall and seemingly know "what's going on" and never have to engage you. God created us for community, and that community goes further than just poking you now and then. By taking back the time I would have spent on Facebook and using it to meet face to face with friends (and play scrabble games in person (novel, I know)) I hope to reclaim a truer since of community – and perhaps make some new friends…

Further, I spend all day with my iPod on. I turn it on when I'm waiting for the bus and again when I get on the metro to go home. It keeps me one step removed from those around me on public transportation, at Trader Joes, or Borders - I am not engaged with what's going on and beyond that it's an awful witness - how can I engage people when I am intentionally blocking them out?

Matt Anderson at Mere Orthodoxy had these thoughts on Lent:

Lent is only Lent because it falls in the shadow of Easter. The fasts which we begin today–from food, music, or other media–are not negations in themselves, but instead opportunities to cultivate hearts that seek God. We cease from eating food from the earth that we might instead be filled with the Bread of Heaven. Fasting is only Christian if it is joined with prayer. The strengthening of our human wills through the discipline of fasting is a secondary benefit. Our primary aim can not be attained by such efforts–we have no strength in ourselves to have springs of Living Water rise up in our souls.


This Lenten season, take the opportunity to seriously and intentionally pursue the God who has first pursued you. Prepare your hearts for Easter by relinquishing the deadly and seductive attraction of pleasures that are not rooted and grounded in God alone. Join prayer with your fasting, and the Word of God with your prayer, that you might be sustained by spiritual food. Follow hard after God by intentionally committing yourself to Him, and do so with the blessed expectation that God in his divine freedom will respond. This is the promise of the Gospel, and this is the blessed hope of Easter, which we look forward to with eagerness, sadness, and joy.

The sacrifice at Lent should be something that actually is, well, a sacrifice. It is denying something that hinders your relationship to God. I often question how chocolate impairs talking to God, but to each their own I suppose. One year I gave up coffee and that was hard and only about me . Beyond the physical ramifications of withdrawal (further proving I am addicted) at the end I wondered what had been gained. Easter morning I drank a big mug with lots of flavored creamer and never once thought about God in the whole process. Tea replaced coffee for 40 days and I moved on as I had before.

I gave up spending another year. I sat down and took an intentional look at my checkbook (quite scary actually) and assessed where my finances went and where He would rather have that money spent. I let God into my budget and let Him hold me accountable for how I spend my funds. It was hard. Instead of running to Borders for another book or buying more Starbucks I prayed, and talked to God and read my Bible. And the pushback was immense. I was attacked by satan and yet, through it all knew God was drawing me to Himself. In the end our relationship was sweeter and I had been forced to face some things in my life excessive spending had been covering up.

The decision to focus on community this year comes after a long process that I would love to talk to you about, in person, over coffee.

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© Amanda Lunday