So, I've been fasting from Facebook for Lent. My intent was to carve out more time for listening to God, to be more purposeful with my time, and to honor the Lenten tradition.
Here's the truth...I've kept to the fast really well. I've honored my commitment to God and myself, only responding to important messages/friend requests via my blackberry as if they were any other messages. I haven't snuck a peek at my news feed. I've been very diligent.
I've found that I am glad to be away from the distraction that FB brings. I'm doing more things with the kids and writing more with my freed up time. I'm using time deliberately. That, I love.
However, I also realized that I didn't actually feel that much more connected to God for giving up Facebook. In fact, I realized that I felt cut off from a lot of my community (which is a huge way of how God works for me)...my Holy Yoga sisters, my friends, my family. I realized that a lot of times, I'm using people's Facebook posts to know how to pray for them and talk to God about them. I use Facebook to stay in touch with my Holy Yoga family which is spread far and wide. While fasting, I've missed people being really sick, a cousin's baby being born, knowing if my friends in Japan are ok, and I don't know what else. I literally don't know what I've missed. (What have I missed?)
I came up with the analogy that it is kind of like if I'd decided to give up my vegetable peeler for Lent. Do I sometimes get lazy and try to use my vegetable peeler for stuff that it isn't meant for (say, pears or kiwi)? Yes, I do, and it is not the best decision or use of that tool. But for some things, like carrots and potatoes, it is just the right tool for the job. Facebook is the same way. Sometimes, I get lazy and spend time looking at stuff that doesn't matter, really. But, for other purposes, it really is just the best tool for the job.
I'd been rattling this around in my brain for a few days (all while sticking to my fast). I'd been feeling like God was calling me to give up the fast. BUT. I was stuck on the idea of what you all would think of me, FB friends and blog readers. "Didn't she say she was giving up FB for Lent? Lent isn't over. She must not...love God that much, be a determined person, have willpower, insert your own criticism of me here...). I felt so afraid to be judged for stopping before Easter. More afraid of that than I was to ignore God's leading.
And then I picked up my Mosaic Bible. This week's essay was on Lenten fasting. Here's what it said:
For many Christians, it's customary to fast from some sort of pleasure or indulgence during Lent. When determining what to fast from, we often select something we perceive to be hindering growth in our relationship with Jesus Christ. But the most ancient forms of fasting--abstaining from food or observing a strict diet--were not done in an effort to remove sinful pleasures from one's life.
Perhaps in losing the art of fasting, we have lost the understanding about what can be gained from voluntarily giving up a presumed necessity. Throughout biblical and Christian history, may have fasted for reasonable and healthy periods. True, the expectations of instant gratification in our culture do not react well to the denial of nourishment. Could it be that God has something to reveal to us in the midst of our momentary self-denial?
And the Scripture that accompanied it was this. The verses that really stuck out to me were verses 6-7 ("No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisioned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.")
Now, I am not imprisoning anyone, but God used this verse to speak to me. I realized I was holding myself hostage to this idea of fasting from Facebook and living in fear of what people would think of me. This is not the kind of fast the Lord wants. He wants a fast in LOVE.
And, so I'm back on Facebook. Hopefully in a purposeful, intentioned way, not a sloppy, lazy way. Can't wait to pray for my friends, see cute pictures of babies, connect with my HY family. I think teaching me to honor His heart of Love is just what God wanted to show me through this fast. Thank you, Lord, for this gift.