Not So (Lenten) Fast

My son asked me to post this picture of him and his Valentine’s Day box for school on Facebook yesterday.

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I did not. How could I not when this clone of my husband wanted me to post something?! He never asks. He is so much like his dad that he will grow up posting on social media only for momentous occasions like the Cubs in post-season play. That tells you how infrequently these guys want to be social on the Internet. Yet I didn’t do it even though he looked so cute and made a sign that says, “Do not touch or steal please.” (I reassured him that none of his classmates would steal anything, but he recalled the city-kid scars of swiped Lego minifigures from his kindergarten 100-day project in Chicago. There was no stopping his insistence on keeping the sign by his beloved Minecraft pieces.)

I had just decided to give up social media for Lent which started yesterday, Ash Wednesday, the day my son asked me to post a picture of him for the first time EVER. I don’t always observe Lent. In fact, I cannot tell you the last time I “fasted” in preparation for Easter. Yet for some reason, I actually felt the desire to do it. Unlike my husband, I post a fair amount. I allow social media scrolling to eat up an enormous amount of my time. I knew that it would be good for me to detach some and find a healthier balance.

I hesitate calling avoiding Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as fasting. Fasting to me has always meant, well, not eating. When did we start needing easier modifications to do the things our spiritual predecessors did? I know my mom fasts as a regular spiritual discipline. For her, it is not a giving up of desserts or gossip or tea. It is giving up food. I grew up knowing she skipped meals sometimes for a day, sometimes for days. Then again, she is of the Korean Christian lineage. They are the ones who get up at 5am to go climb a mountain and pray for a couple hours. HOURS. When I was in Korea after my freshman year of college, I went to a lock-in with some Christian students. We did not order pizza and watch movies all night. We spent the ENTIRE night praying. ALL NIGHT PRAYING. ALL NIGHT! PRAYING! Sound like a party to you? It is to an old school Korean Christian. Dang. I don’t know how I did it considering 20 minutes of praying can feel like an eternity to me sometimes now.

I am writing a blog entry. I googled whether or not social media included blogs because if it does, technically my (non) “fast” is being broken as I type. (It does.) But here’s the deal. I am giving up 3 forms of social media that have taken over my pitiful life. My blog has not (publishing 2 entries a week might be a record). I would like to think that God is still pleased with my efforts even if they are well, half-assed. I would like to think that God still loves me even though I just wrote a form of “ass” (not meaning what He rode into Jerusalem) in my entry. I would like to think that even though nowhere in the Bible do you read about Jesus or the disciples fasting as just giving up rugulah or kosher wine or not sitting in the public squares for debates that they spent WAY too much time attending. I would like to think that He takes some pleasure in my feeble attempts of self-denial. He knows that there is a possibility that Kanye will tweet something crazy (aka ANYTHING), and I will miss it. He knows that I will now no longer see what my friends are eating on Instagram. He knows that I will now feel really out of touch by being off Facebook. Because He is full of grace, He will not see my inactivity on these sites as lame compared to his own self-denial of having thorns pushed into his forehead, being stripped and beaten, having nails hang Him on a cross, and being completely separated from God for a time. Wait, what was I saying?

The point of fasting from anything is to remember our true dependence is on God. We can deny ourselves in humility for a cause greater than us. While I feel this the most when I skip meals to approach His throne on behalf of someone needing prayer, I believe there can be something sacred even in the the most menial ways of trying to emulate His example. When I stop getting on social media not because I personally want a better balance in my time management, but because I use that time to spend with Him and in turn get the added benefits of actually talking to my husband in the evening or engaging with my kids and dog when they are around me or most especially approaching Him in any way possible, then it can be fasting. So yes, I am fasting those 3 sites until Easter. I will not see your lovely Instagram sunsets (but I see them every day in my backyard). I will not know what you tweet or know your Facebook status updates. But I will hopefully be a little closer to the One who epitomized self-denial NOT for His own sake but for the sake of those He loved. As is true with most spiritual disciplines, it does not change Him. He would still love me whether I spent 14 hours on my iPhone or not. Instead, it changes me. This year, I decided I was ready for some of that. Besides this blog, I will reconnect via social media on Easter! Till then, you will have to text or email me to get in touch. And please do if I miss a song dropping by Bey. 🙂

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2 Responses to Not So (Lenten) Fast

  1. Sandra says:

    Thanks for posting, Leslie. While “fast” in the Bible does refer to food (and, potentially water), in today’s vernacular it does apply to a broader scope of sustenance…or what we, personally, might define as a source of sustenance on any level. I’m sharing this year’s Lent Project, from Biola, a multi-media multi-perspective devotional series (they do Advent, too) which I find to be such a rich contemplative vehicle, in case you’d like an additional avenue to draw close to God in all your extra time (!!!) – but may be having trouble resisting the call of the internet: http://ccca.biola.edu/lent/

    In the Jewish tradition, I wish you an easy fast!

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