Usually my thought process before Lent goes somewhat like this:
"What am I addicted to and need to be a bit more disciplined in?
I could give up cheese (no. I seriously could not).
I should really watch less tv.
I should start working out!
I spend too much time on Facebook.
Give up coffee?
A few years ago I gave up Facebook for Lent. It was surprisingly easy given all of the time I waste on a site that feels like an awkward virtual party with virtual clones of people you know (and a few you'd rather not). I was encouraged by all the time I gained sans Facebook. Yet, at the end of Lent, I didn't really care a whole lot that I had given up Facebook and in the long run, that forty day period really didn't do a whole lot for my character. It could be the case this is unique to me, but I have a sneaking suspicion others feel the same way.
My hubs and I discussed today a few of the points Rachel Held Evans provided in her article.
The one that made me think that Lent is not primarily about giving something up was #7:
Why am I giving this particular thing up? How does giving it up draw me closer to God and prepare me for Easter?
Well, the answer to that question in regards to giving up Facebook: It just straight up does not draw me closer to God and prepare me for Easter. Neither will watching less tv or working out. Giving up Facebook made me a bit more disciplined (which is a great thing), but it did not prepare me for Christ. I should have added some sort of spiritual discipline to replace my Facebook time.
Also, disclaimer: I'm not suggesting that giving up those types of things is a bad idea. Or that minimizing our daily distractions is a bad thing-- I'm all for that! I do think, however, that most people view Lent primarily as a way to just give something up. A refreshing perspective: to practice a discipline during Lent that will add to your character as a follower of Christ.
So, for this Lenten season, Michael and I have decided to go to St. Paul's morning prayer service Monday through Friday. This could fall under the category of "giving up something", because we will be missing a few hours of sleep every morning. But I'd rather think of it as adding a valuable discipline that will draw me nearer to God. The reason I am sharing what I will be "taking up" this Lent, is so that for those of you who know me, can ask me about it from time to time--a sort of accountability thing if you will.