I had never participated in something like Lent before. I wasn’t raised in a church where it was a major part of Easter and had never felt the necessity of seriously giving up something. Sure, I had given up chocolate or soda when I was 16 to say I was doing it for youth group or Facebook but I didn’t truly understand the meaning of giving something up IN ORDER to more heavily rely on God.
This year, I have been more intentional about trying to reconnect with God and learn more about other peoples’ ways of worship. I learned a lot more about Lent in one of my classes and decided that it was a wonderful opportunity to use the time before Easter to focus and rededicate my life to Christ. I decided to give up almost all of my social media accounts as I felt that they were distracting from fellowship and relationship with other believers and taking up a lot of unnecessary time that could be better spent. This was a personal goal but also an experiment to see how I would feel after.
I have always been pretty obsessed with my phone and social media accounts so I wasn’t sure how difficult this would be, or even if I could make it the whole time. Some of these were harder than others but altogether I gave up:
- limited time on Facebook (only for groups and messages)
- limited time on Pinterest (I use it for work some)
The first thing I noticed was that it was not as hard as I thought it would be. Once I stopped pulling out my phone to mindlessly look at things and remembered that I had no reason to, it wasn’t that difficult at all. It was a little bit of a struggle, or maybe disappointment is a better word, when I realized initially how often I pulled out my phone to look up little things that aren’t important. I felt called out emotionally and spiritually, realizing how much of my free time during the day is wasted.
The second thing I realized is that maybe I didn’t even want it back.
Sure, I like being able to see what my friends and family are up to or post a fun picture when I’m out with friends, but social media condones so many things that aren’t acceptable. It’s such an outlet for feelings that in real life we train ourselves to feel guilty about. We feel either jealousy or judgement, and looking at social media as much as a lot of college students do is an easy way to end up with a bitter heart.
As the 40 days came to a close, I thought it would be difficult to keep the new habits I gained during Lent. But after only one day, I immediately didn’t want to deal with the stress of keeping up with it. I was away from my social media accounts for a short 40 days, and I could tell how exhausting social media was to my brain, and to my heart.
As Christians, it’s so important to make sure that the things we are filling are hearts with are things that glorify God. This can be such a difficult thing in today’s society when everything, good and bad, is so readily available. Keeping track of the next outfits, where people are going, who they’re hanging out with, what type of picture you need to take, how to get more likes or more followers or better editing apps takes away from all of beauty around us every day. It makes the hard things even harder because we’re often living life behind a screen.
In the end, I have deleted my Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter accounts for the foreseeable future. Those are the programs that I felt impacted my life negatively and I most enjoyed not having to keep up with.
Not everyone agrees with this idea or has the same struggles as I do. But after declaring the good news that He Is Risen with my fellow believers, it feels like a tangible way to more intentionally focus on my relationship with God.