My Lent journey that made all the difference
It was 2015 and I was stuck in a job where I felt like someone’s “minion” rather than an employee. My husband was working swing shift and we only had a few windows of time to see each other each week. We did what we could do to spend quality time together but they were few and far between. We regularly did “date-mornings” where we would walk to our local donut shop, Pip’s Donuts to play a game of dominos. There were many nights I would sacrifice sleep just to see my husband for 15 minutes before crashing into bed. Alongside our daily struggles, we had been trying to get pregnant for almost 2 years and finally started to talk doctors. It was a tough season to say the least.
During this time I also felt a deep calling from God that was hauntingly unclear. It seemed to linger behind a wall of impediments keeping me from a comfortable and content life. When I felt the most frustrated and lost, I went against my own deep belief in God’s goodness and saw Him to be cruel. I saw God as a distant omnipotent presence that simply choose not to help but instead dangled desires in front of me that could never be satisfied. The ache of an unknown calling mixed with infertility and loneliness was almost too much to bear, so I escaped the best way I knew how: I watched TV… a lot of TV. I had my moments before of binge-watching a series on Netflix but when I’m in pain, it becomes an epidemic. My heart latches on to someone else’s story to escape my current story.
Ash Wednesday was soon approaching and it was perfectly clear to me what needed to be set aside for that season: TV. The idea actually came to me when I was unable to attend my local IF: Gathering because of my full-time job. This was my first year learning about about IF: Gathering and was truly disappointed I could attend. So instead I bought the 2015 IF:Gathering download to watch in place of TV during Lent.
The 40 days of “no TV” began and on the many nights home alone, I went through my list of what I would do instead:
- Hang out with a friend
- Be creative
- Organize something
- Watch IF: Gathering
On those nights I would open my Bible, take notes and connect with the story of God. Eventually the numbness began to fade, my need to escape turned into a need to grieve, and I began to see myself and my circumstances more clearly.
Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:9-11)
I walked into that Lent season with ashes on my forehead knowing full well what needed to die: my demands for a comfortable life. I so desperately wanted things to come easy for me: My marriage, career, children, money, calling but instead I continued to feel like God was withholding all that I thought was best for my life. I felt like God was handing me stones instead of bread! My heart was completely turned inward and very moment I turned off the TV was the moment I saw bread in my hands for the first time in awhile.
Lent is rehab for the soul.
It’s a season to detox our homes, bodies, hearts, and minds of anything that seeps death and sin into our life. It’s a season of strengthening and seeking and savoring the Savior. We can only do this when we stop savoring our own lives. Instead we remember that we are totally and completely dependent upon a loving God who bore our punishment so that we could experience life.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:13)
Have blessed Lent my friends!
PS: I have a much healthier relationship with TV now and it’s actually more enjoyable!