I stopped using Facebook for Lent.  It’s hardly sacrificial.  One of my more cynical atheist friends said, ‘you aren’t suggesting that giving up Facebook is like Jesus’ suffering on the cross, are you?’  (Sorry David, I paraphrase.)

I wasn’t suggesting that at all. I was, however, cleaning house; making room for Jesus.  Putting things in order. Lent is a time of sacrifice and self-denial, but also contemplation.  And sometimes, the rewards are not what we would expect.  Such has been my experience so far.

By staying off of Facebook, I realized first and foremost how much time I spent just looking at comments, events, links.  And in the process, how much time I had taken away from…reality.  Not that the events of other people’s lives aren’t real. But I mean, they aren’t here, in front of me.  My life is in the now.  My life is the smile of my wife.  My life is the question of my child, the laughter of my family over dinner, the everyday look, and smell and sound of my house.  My life is the wagging tail of the dog on the porch, the cool wind in the pine trees, the purr of the cat who finally lets me hold him, the red mud on the rocky driveway that needs to be scraped.  My life is in the contemplation of my patients and their struggles; it’s in the joy of books read, walks taken, naps enjoyed.  My life must not be sacrificed on the altar of electronic distraction.

I learned, also, how little time I had come to spend in prayer and scripture.  It’s too easy to click on an icon, to open a link, to scan mindlessly up and down the page.  Sometimes it elevates, sometimes it does not.  But God calls to me and desires that I attend to him, my greatest Friend and that I pray for all of our mutual friends.  He desires that I know his word far more intimately than I know the passing posts of even my dearest loved one.  Far more than entertainment, this connection we have elevates me.  In time, it makes me more and more like Christ.  It is transformative, in time and eternity.

Finally, I learned just how much conflict exists online.  I am passionate about many things.  And when I see arguments, accusations, insults, they all distract me.  They tempt me to engage when in fact, I will change few minds with a response or an angry exchange.  This is just reality. But those things (which reveal my besetting sin of pride) pull me in and raise my hackles.  They cause me to think angrily of opponents or to worry about events beyond my control.  They rob me of peace.  I don’t miss that; even though I do like a good fight now and then.

I’m sure I’ll return.  When Lent is past, I will be posting again.  I hope, however, that I will do it with a new perspective. With a new priority set.  At the top must be God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.  Only God can put everything in the right order.  Online or offline. And from Him emanates everything of true worth that I have so easily displaced with wasted time.  From Him emanates the love I should show in place of anger.  And from Him emanates the truth that must guide me.

Giving up Facebook for Lent is not a sacrifice in any true sense.  My wife gave up sweet tea.  Now that’s a real one in my book.  But leaving behind that electronic temptation is a small step in preparation for the celebration of the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus.

Your ‘Friend,’

Edwin

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