That Happy Meeting Place

This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored," says the LORD. -- Haggai, Chapter 2:7-8

Last year, for Lent, I gave up make-up. And I meant to tell you all about it: what I learned, how I survived, whether or not anyone even noticed. But I had to wait until the 40 days were up and I wanted to let the ideas marinate. By then it seemed a strange time (the middle of summer) to write about my Lenten lesson. I still plan to write that essay someday, but for now I'd like to explain this year's plan, before history up and repeats itself.

Here's what I've decided: I'm gonna have to give up Facebook for awhile. Uber-spiritual of me I know, but Lent is not supposed to be about what we give up is it? No, and its focus should not be some debate of how good or bad these things are either. The real challenge, I believe, is how to go about not replacing this sacrifice with some other filler. To allow myself an uncluttered screen and a quiet keyboard, to see all the white space on my heart's message board and remember the posts it truly needs, that's the point of Lent.

The easiest quick fix for me will be more blogreading, more networking and more commenting. Or perhaps I'll trick myself into giving a little peek every now and then, just to make sure I'm not missing out on some important message from someone whose only contact with me is Facebook. Then I'll justify it by telling myself that I didn't look at any pictures, or read any statuses, I just checked my inbox. Then later, I'll remember that some people only use the wall for messages and I better check that out, just to be certain. But I'll make sure to set a timer or something, and allow myself only 5 minutes. And no more than twice a day, three times tops. . .

This is how it happens for me. The negotiations grow more and more ridiculous and before I know it, I'm redefining every click I tap. The computer screen becomes my god and the practice of avoiding Facebook is now my Law.

Those priestly robes could not be any more clean and starched, Janna, you're practically glowing.

"Why thank you, I've worked really hard on them -- Hang on a sec, what kind of robes?"

How did I end up here again? Isn't this what God told me to do -- the specific idea he gave me when I prayed about what to give up. How exactly did my bowing down turn into puffing up? Didn't I learn what grace was years ago? Didn't Jesus take out the slave earrings when I asked him to? Didn't he tattoo freedom on my heart instead?

Yes, he did. And it's real, permanent ink, in the soul saving, eternally secure kind of way. But as long as I'm here on earth, the temporal, flesh part of my heart works more like a dry erase board. The slightest rub wipes away truth, and the words must be retraced often.

I can't tell you how many times I've wished for messages that stick, and a background that held them fast. It doesn't seem to be what God wants though. He seems instead, to be more happy when we hold the marker together and I let his fingers lead the writing. And Jesus is simply not content to be one of my "friends" who occasionally says "hi." Yep, I'm learning that he'd rather share morning cups of coffee, lingering lunches and late night phone calls.

And he's right, of course. God's love is most real, when his face is most recent. His posts are the ones that make my heart beat with life, and not repetition; his words are the ones worth saving in that file labeled life.

So what about you? What are your experiences and/or struggles with Lent? Do you plan to take part? Why or why not?


Doubtful Muse said...

Interesting post. Lent has always given me cognitive dissonance because I can't get it right. It's apparently too easy for me to give up things and I'm not sure why. Make up? I need to wear it for work, so that's not happening. Facebook, I check it, but I don't really care. It sometimes feels like a chore. Being Catholic, there are always food-things, but I don't seem to have trouble giving up foods either. Mike associates Lent with absolute misery, which is the primary reason he wants to go to Jamaica for his birthday (last week of Feb.). Lent is only meaningful if you give up something that matters; I really do wish I knew what that was for me...

rjblueyes said...

I once heard a pastor on the radio talking about Lent. He said he was going to give up beets. He started laughing and no one was quite sure why. He then explained that he HATED beets, and this would be something he could easily give up.

He went on to explain the reason he did this for Lent. Too many times we make Lent about us, about what WE are giving up. And like you, we beat ourselves up if we don't follow our own little rules of not giving something up.

Lent is not about what we give up to make ourselves miserable. If we look at it like that we aren't doing ourselves any good at all. We sacrifice something we love, we enjoy, and we cherish. We do this for our one true beloved God, who has sacrificed his only son for us.

tamsaunt said...

I tend to follow the Episcopal path for Lent. Not so much what we give up, but what we add. This year, I will be following a Lenten calendar that each day asks you to meditate on some need in the community or world, and then to put a token in your mite box. It is up to you to decide what your token is, this year, mine will be $1. We turn in our mite boxes on Easter and the money from the boxes goes to a specific outreach ministry of our church. I think last year it was St Francis House, our consolidated organization to help the needy here in the metro Little Rock area. I haven't seen anything about ths year's recipient, but it will ibe something we care about.

Anonymous said...

Hi there! I just stumbled upon your blog. A friend of mine asked her Facebook friends if giving up FB for Lent would be a good idea. What I told her is that while giving something up is the norm, a lot people forget the reason you give something up is to remember the sacrifice Jesus made for us.

I don't really give up anything anymore, because it really didn't do anything. Instead of focusing on why I did it, I would find myself saying "x more days until I can have ice cream again!" And it is hard not to replace whatever you give up with another filler.

Now, I take a certain amount of time each day and spend it with God or doing something for others. So, in a way, I guess I sacrifice time I could be spending doing something else, like watching a movie or spending time on Facebook.