I’ve been quieter about my Lenten journey this year. It’s not been on purpose. I didn’t plan it that way is what I mean. The last time I sat down to write, the internet was out. At first, I was irritated about the inconvenience of it. By the time we found out it would be a couple of days until a new piece of equipment arrived, I was over it and enjoyed no internet.
One of the purposes of my Lenten journey this year was to spend less time on social media, my phone and laptop. I realized halfway into the season that I had not done well with the “less time” part. Then we had no internet and I was forced into it. And it was good.
I was less distracted so I read more. And studied more. I had longer conversations with my family. I listened better. I thought through ideas fully. I felt more at ease and it seemed easier to move at soul-speed.
Then the internet was up again and it all went back to how it was before. The restlessness. The wasted time. The countless distractions.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Internet or not, we are bombarded with opportunities to look, like, scroll, watch, read, post the perfectly filtered photo, create the wittiest caption, comment, and check stats. For what? Why do I give in to the distractions when I know it’s not what I need?
I believe the question is one each of us needs to ask ourselves, wrestle with, and answer honestly. And it won’t do any good to put it out of our minds and ignore it. Why do we allow such unnecessary distractions? Are they doing any good for us? There may be some good in it and because of it. I read many inspirational posts throughout the week that remind me of truth and encourage me. But we all know our screens aren’t filled with all things encouraging. It’s too easy to compare or envy or become less and less content with our lives. And we really need to be concerned when we care more about our social media presence than with who we are in real life with the people God gave us. We need to ask how we can use social media for the good of others; how we use it wisely; how we can prevent it from stealing valuable time and real connection with real people.
These are questions I’m asking.
So I’m deleting a couple of apps from my phone today, because having instant access to all the distractions is part of the problem for me. This is a start and it will help, but I plan to keep asking the questions. I will keep wrestling because I don’t want to give in to a distracted life.
If you’re one who has found out how to do this well I wish you’d share with the rest of us. We can all learn from one another.
I’ll leave you with beautiful thoughts from Jan Richardson. She blogs at The Painted Prayerbook. This is from one of her 2012 Lenten posts.
“….we carry so much that can serve to insulate us from recognizing and being present to the God who is always present to us, and who still perceives our beloved shape beneath the layers of grime that cling to our souls. The distractions we build our lives around; the harm we cause others or ourselves; our inability to see ourselves as God sees us: how might we allow God to wash all this away, not so that God can see us more clearly, but so that we can see the God who makes a home within us?”