I first heard about Lent in my twenties, living in Northern Ireland where it didn’t matter if you were Catholic, Protestant or Buddhist – everyone practiced lent. It was quite shocking to me that people could (and would) give up smoking, drinking, gambling or any other addiction, successfully for forty days, then happily return to it afterwards. I think my first attempt was giving up sugar – and I’m pretty sure I didn’t make it. It wasn’t a spiritual exercise – just a corporate one that was interesting, but lacked conviction.
I did learn about the spiritual practice of lent since then, and while I love the idea (and have practiced it in some way here and there) this is my first year where I remembered ahead of time so I could actually think and pray about it, and plan in advance how I wanted to participate in this time leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.
One thing I’m learning is giving something up gets easily replaced – I could say I need to spend less time playing games online, but I know I’ll just replace it with more scrolling on social media. I could say I need to watch less mindless TV but I know I’ll just replace it with reading more mindless books.
So when I chose to set some strict limits on my social media for Lent, I wanted to have a plan to replace that usage. For me, it will mean taking up the daily practice spiritual journaling, using the Scriptures and prompts from an old series put out by Maxwell Presbyterian Church. And, for when I’m fidgety and need a reminder – making wallpaper on my phone that both help me reflect on the daily Scripture and remind me to stay off of it.