Have you given up or added anything to help you focus on the quality of your personal discipleship and spiritual formation this Lenten season?
I was on the fence myself, right up to the last minute, but when I heard that one of the younger leaders we serve was giving up Facebook and Instagram, I decided to do likewise. I’ve maintained personal and professional email, as well as important internet access, listening to music and videos online, but no social media. It’s been quite refreshing for my soul.
What have I missed out on? I have no idea! But, what I’ve gained is so much more. Primarily, I’ve regained the time and emotional energy I used to invest posting or perusing Facebook and Instagram, and have found my heart to be filled with a renewed enjoyment of the present moment. Not completely, I might add, but at minimum a tad more attentive to the presence of God and the gift of presence with others…and even a deeper awareness of what’s going on in my soul.
The “present moment” is so often lost in our world of distraction and preoccupation. Our ability to be “fully present” to others usually gets subjugated by an unhealthy fascination of others lives and events, as well as all the extra effort we expend to self-congratulate and self-promote online and in our relationships. Our world is so full of people addicted to their smart phones and continuous connection online, and that has led to a very unhealthy self-absorption.
Awareness of the “present moment” allows us to focus our attention on conversations and relationships that matter most…to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation without feeling compelled to share our discoveries with our FB “friends”…and, to read and reflect deeply on the biblical text and in books our souls thrive.
In short, during this Lenten season of stripping away from the things of this world, in order to be more intentionally focused on Christ, social media is one possible focus of release. Others I know are letting go of the need to always be right/in control/have the last word, while others are releasing sweets, chocolate, or coffee…and others I respect are not doing much different at all this Lent, and that’s ok too. Each of us respond to Lent in unique ways…no one does it “better” than another: there is no “right” way to experience Lent.
Regardless of your posture during this holy season of the church year, let me simply encourage you not to miss out on the “present moment” and focus afresh on noticing, attending, resting and abiding in Jesus…and to pursue whatever practices will help you enjoy the continual presence of Christ. Our hearts desire is to more intentionally focus on Christ and not be hindered by distraction, so that we can experience more fully the gifts that accompany this “present moment” of our life with God.
Why do we lean into such a pursuit? As Brother Lawrence wrote in his devotional classic, Practicing the Presence of God, “So that we should feed and nourish our souls with high notions of GOD; which would yield us great joy in being devoted to Him.”
Friends, this is my Lenten prayer for you…”Lord, I thank you for the gift of presence that you offer to us as your beloved children…you are always present and attentive to our needs. Help us to become more aware of your loving presence and offer your grace, mercy and peace to all who cross our path today. In Jesus, Amen.”