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.