Lent

I’ve never really given up anything for Lent; have you? Was it hard? Were you successful? Have you given something up this year?

Growing up, my family never really did much with it. And even my current church doesn’t seem to focus so much on the act of giving up something for Lent. The Germans call it “Sieben Wochen ohne” – seven weeks without – and I do remember my church encouraging its members to instead do Sieben Wochen mit (seven weeks with!) and instead of fasting, to make a conscious effort to buy only fair trade products for the seven weeks of Lent.

But this year, I felt a quiet voice inside urging me to give Sieben Wochen ohne a try. A practice in mindfulness and being present in the moment.

In an effort to do less scrolling on my phone, I moved Instagram and Facebook into a folder on my iPhone so as not to open them easily. It’s crazy how some things become a habit. And how those habits turn into compulsions. Isn’t it crazy to feel like I have to see EVERY new post — and double tap to like them! — every day?

The first five days we were on vacation up in the mountains, I didn’t have good internet connection. Actually, I didn’t realize the hostel had free wifi – ha! and I was surprised at how the inability to use certain apps, especially Instagram, actually felt pretty good.

I love looking at the beautiful pictures of people’s lives that they post there. But lately I have been feeling pretty down because I have been comparing my life to theirs. Mine is not as picture perfect, and while I love posting pictures of my little family or things that I see around my neighborhood, I feel a surprising amount of pressure as I scroll through picture after picture, my thumb starting to feel sore from double-tapping. What’s the point?

Sometimes we get too involved in things that have no actual importance to our real lives. Being so connected all the time is a double-edged sword, because we aren’t truly present in the moment when we are staring at our phones.

If I really wanted to fast, I would give up my phone completely. Because I spend tons of time on WhatsApp chatting with friends and family. It’s my support system, as well as my way of making appointments and meet-ups and hangouts with my friends. It’s just how we communicate nowadays. But I feel that would be isolating in a way that I’m not ready to try yet, so this year I have limited it specifically to Instagram and Facebook, due to these weird depressing feelings they’ve made me feel lately. To give me some space from comparing my life to others’ and to instead look around and see how blessed and how fortunate I am to have what I have.

As with breaking any habit, it helps not just to abstain, but to also replace it with meaningful things. I would like to spend the next seven weeks focusing on my kids and my family. Taking the time to read actual books. Putting the phone aside as I play and connect. But also to write more in my poor, neglected blog here. (How good it feels typing on actual keys instead of tapping fingers on my phone!)

In addition, we have started reading from our friends’ book that was published a few years back. It’s a devotional book called Brot und Liebe: Wie man Gott nach Hause holt. To be honest, it feels a little bit strange doing it because we have never done anything like that together, and Tobi’s parents do it before and after every meal, which is kind of annoying. But if ever there were a time to be a little more religiously involved, it’s Lent. Because it’s a time to focus on things that truly matter.

The picture above is from Theo’s newest favorite activity – playing with my washi tape stash. I love this one. 

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7 thoughts on “Lent

  1. I could not have given up my Internet lifeline while I was living in Germany- the only way I kept up with anyone about anything was over those communication lines. I don’t think that Whatsapp is something you should ever even consider dropping. (Facebook, on the other hand… if I dropped that, I would never know what’s going on with my family. :D)

    • So true. Luckily, I have other ways of contacting most of my family (my parents are on WhatsApp and my sister-in-law is on iMessage, and that’s pretty much the extent of my keeping in touch anyway). It’s funny how we have so come to depend on something that didn’t even exist a few years ago. 🙂 I’m thankful for my smartphone and how it allows me to keep in touch with people both near and far. But I also know that I use it far too often, and smartphone addiction is a real issue for a lot of us! It’s been interesting so far.

  2. I don’t do Lent. I’m not even religious so it would seem hypocritical. I gave up chocolate once as a teenager for a bet, but that’s about it.

    It’s funny that you compare your life unfavourably to others. I would give anything to have your life… a family of your very own! Two adorable children! You are so lucky!

    Like Steven, without Facebook I would have no idea what was going on with my family. I lived in Austria for 11 months after uni and never heard from my sister once the entire time! Just after getting back from there, I got Facebook and now I at least see what she posts there and if I comment saying “Umm, what?!” she will private message or WhatsApp me to tell me what I missed this time!

    • Ooh, I don’t think I could give up chocolate. 😉

      Thanks, Bev – I know you so yearn for a family of your own, and I do hope your boyfriend changes his mind! xx As exhausting and HARD as it all is, having two small children, I do realize how lucky I am to have them. Especially having had miscarriages in my past – I’m so thankful for my babies. Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for all the trees. I think we all compare ourselves to others to at least a certain extent. Other people often seem to have it all together! So it’s always refreshing to me when people are honest about how they feel and how some things are just hard. We often only see the smallest sliver of what is going on in people’s lives.

      I’ve noticed that I’ve been using Facebook far less anyway.

      So far I’m not doing a better job at reading actual books. But there are still several weeks left. And only a few times have I wondered what certain people are up to on Instagram. It’s definitely an experience!

        • Oh man, I’m so out of the loop! I’m glad you’re on the same page now, but sorry to hear it’s been a struggle. That’s such a long time to wait. I hope things will go more quickly now that you’ve got the fertility specialist helping out! Sending tons of positivity and baby dust. ❤

          • Thank you. I haven’t blogged about it because some family read my blog now and we haven’t told them we’re trying yet. Only one friend knows, and my sister because she’s getting married in December and has asked me to be bridesmaid.

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