Lent has begun. And for me it has been a very strange time so far. I gave up social media. I know for many of you reading this that may not seem like that big of a deal, but for me it has been so weird. I don’t think I’ve given up social media for Lent in at least five years and I think I’ve underestimated how connected I am. But, as of last Wednesday, I gave up Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…everything*; cold turkey, and I’ve honestly not felt this disconnected and isolated for a while. What this really has pointed out is how dependent I have become on connection through this modern medium. It was a means of feeling connected to friends. It was even a way of feeling connected to family. I even relied on Twitter to get my news sound bites. And yet, here I am feeling unplugged from the world I had come to rely on. And frankly it’s a little terrifying and liberating.
I’m not sure how many of you do this, but I try to spend a good deal of time rethinking the reason behind my Lenten fast each year prior to the season. Lent is a season of Preparation modeled after Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness. As with any fast, it is intended to remind us of our dependence on God. Through the sacrifice of something close to us, be it food, time, social media, etc., we are reminded of our humanity and our fragility. That’s the most incredible thing about the incarnation that we are reminded of during this season. AS the Nicene creed says, “For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven; he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary, and was made human.” The commemoration of the season of Lent reminds us of Jesus’ willingness to embrace human fragility, but also reminds us of how Jesus revealed God in the midst of this. In the gospel of Luke we read, “Jesus returned from the Jordan River full of the Holy Spirit, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.” – Luke 4:1 Full of the Holy Spirit, Jesus embraced his full humanity.
I think this is where we sometimes veer off track with fasts such as the Lenten season. We go into these fasts in our own power. We think that as we do so we are reminded even more of our humanity as we feel the fear of failure or the potential shortcomings in the process of fasting. But that’s not the point of it all. Fasting is meant to draw us closer to God and to others; and this is only accomplished through the power of God’s Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that enables to realize the fasting isn’t all about us. It is the Holy Spirit that draws us closer to each other in the midst of our feeling of isolation, fragility and disconnectedness. It is the Holy Spirit that reminds us that its’ presence is not only that which empowered Christ in the wilderness, but empowers us in the wilderness as well. So know that you are not alone and may this season remind you of all your contentedness.
* If you are reading this on social media, it is only because WordPress successfully linked it to my accounts.