Lenten Reflections: A Post-Mortem
So I fasted from TV, radio and internet entertainment for six weeks/forty days during the season of Lent. You can read my earlier reflections as I was in the process of the fast. Some days, I didn’t miss these friends at all. Some days, I missed them terribly. Most days I had moments where I normally would turn one of those mediums on where I had to figure out what I would do instead. Big chunks of my life were removed for a lengthy period of time.
This experience was different than what it would have been if I had been trying to break a bad habit and remove it permanently from my life. I knew going in that I would be able to turn these things back on after the resurrection. I guess in my psyche, taking a break seemed more manageable for me than stopping the behavior altogether. I know some who read this believe that I need to completely remove all entertainment from my life, and I honor their desire for that and their convictions that give breath to that desire. I think that, for me, the key is moderation in all things. I need to come to a place where I can watch TV or I don’t have to watch TV, and where I choose what to watch and when to watch rather than just turning it on and flipping until I find something. Same with radio. Ditto with internet. I want to be mentally, emotionally and spiritually engaged in the choice rather than mindlessly turning to them for stress relief and mental distraction.
But in order to do this, I need to move to a place where my life is fully engaged in the things I love: spending time and serving my wife, parenting and playing with my girls, investing heart-and-soul in the spiritual/intellectual processes of writing, speaking and teaching, taking time to spend with friends and serving my churches in ministry. My media time investment often goes up in direct proportion to my dissatisfaction or stress levels with other areas of my life. The great thing that has happened at the end of my forty days (certainly not so much during it), is that I am enjoying a reinvigorated relationship with Robin, learning patience and greater joy with my kids, finding greater fulfillment in my career with the two churches I serve and thorougly enjoying the development of teaching and writing. I’m still working on spending more time with friends. But I have begun to take better care of myself though diet and exercise and hope to continue that aspect of my life as well. Because of these things, I don’t crave the noise as much because I don’t need to be distracted from the life that I am enjoying in so many ways. Because I am still early in the process of living out these things, you should check in with me in the next few weeks and see how things are going.
Lent was a time of dying for me. I really felt the pain, the withdrawal, the emptiness and the frustration of a life not fully lived. But as of right now, Easter (which runs from April 4-May 23) is truly a time of resurrection in my life. Though it comes nowhere close to what Christ actually went through, I resonate with Paul’s heart-cry in the letter to the Philippians: “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Dying ended up being a great thing. Coming to life? Even better.