For my latest personal challenge, I am combining our monthly personal challenges with the practice of giving up something for Lent. Therefore, this challenge timeframe is a bit different than usual. If you have been following along you know that we typically do a challenge each month of the year which keep things simple. Lent is roughly 6 weeks long though, or 40 days, so we have basically combined February and March for this challenge. With that, the challenge I have been implementing is to stop using Facebook and Candy Crush for Lent.
You may or may not be familiar with Lent and depending on your background there are different interpretations of it. I think most people associate Catholicism with it the most. Erin and I go to an Anglican church though which is Protestant but has lots of similarities. Lent starts on Ash Wednesday and ends by Easter Day.
Some say it ends 3 days before or the night before but if you get hung up on the exact timeframe I think you are missing the point. The point is to draw you closer to God and remove the boundaries that separate you from God. The 40-day timeframe is reflective of the time Jesus spent in the wilderness fasting.
Just as Jesus went without during his time in the desert Christians use this time to reflect and in turn give up something to focus on their relationship with God. There is no illusion though that what we give up is equal to what God gave up by sending his son to be crucified for our sins. The intent is to draw us closer to God and remove the obstacles that we have put in our lives that act as a barrier.
Stop Using Facebook and Candy Crush for Lent
So, kind of an awkward transition to Facebook and Candy Crush, but there are many things in our lives that pull us from God and each other. For me, Facebook and Candy Crush represent time suckers that can prevent us from using our time well and fulfilling our potential. They can be good and bring together family and community and provide much needed leisure. They also tend to bring out our worst by creating division and hatred and act as a distraction to attending to things we have been neglecting.
So, like anything, it is what we make of them. I have found that Facebook frustrates me with politics and Candy Crush is a waste of time (although still fun). Having a family, I felt that I needed to focus on them more and quit getting caught up in the drama of our world or saying, “one more game.”
Having done similar things for Lent in the past I decided that I needed to give up some of these distractions and put my time and energy to better use.
What I’ve Replaced my Time With
This is mainly felt in the evenings where I typically would try to chill out after work and the kids are in bed. It wouldn’t have been uncommon to lay down on the couch to relax but also become separated from Erin.
Instead of going on Facebook I have made a point of helping her make dinner or wash the dishes. That way she finishes sooner and then we get to spend more time together. That or maybe I’ll feed our youngest while she is making dinner. Either way, my goal is to serve them better.
For the record, I appreciate all that Erin does for our family. I have no expectations that she cooks dinner or does the dishes because she is a woman. This is just how we have broken down the house chores with her staying home and me working. Personally, I don’t care if the dishes are done when we go to bed. Erin has made it clear that it is important to her so I need to support that.
At the end of the day we are all exhausted. We need to be there for each other and be each other’s advocates. I’d love to say that I am the perfect husband and father and always put them first but we know that isn’t true. There are many ways I feel like I can improve. I’ve taken some steps to be better but have a long way to go. Removing these distractions is a start to doing that.
How Much of a distraction is it really?
This screenshot below is very telling. I received this notification on my iPad since I haven’t been on Facebook since February 14. That was less than 3 weeks into Lent when I captured that image. It shows I have 98 new notifications, 26 group updates, 10 likes on a post I was tagged in and on and on. If you think about it, that is 98+ times that I could have checked Facebook rather than serving my family.
That is eye opening. Now, I may not have checked separately for each of those items but that is what happens when I don’t have any activity on Facebook. Imagine if I had been posting on a regular basis. That would have drastically increased the notifications.
I do have a couple exceptions I have implemented.
- There is one group I am in that allows bloggers to post their recent articles to share. Since I have finally gotten back to posting after being absent in February I wanted to share my recent article on staying motivated during debt payoff to keep this site relevant. I logged in and posted the article and got back out avoiding drama and politics. No drama or politics in that group though, usually. Those debt snowball vs. debt avalanche conversations can get testy at times though.
- I will be in a mastermind group that will be using Facebook groups to interact with each other. I have thought hard about this and have decided it is OK to use only that group. It will be in limited doses as the intent is to exchange information around tha topic. It is less about following the letter of the law and more about paying attention to the spirit of the law. The spirit is to get rid of the distractions that prevent me from serving others. I can do that while maintaining these couple exceptions.
Facebook and Candy Crush are two of many distractions. I could easily add Twitter to that or other interests of mine but I chose the 2 biggest ones.
Erin is not quite doing what I am doing and instead has stopped our 2-year-old son from watching TV. Getting anything done with a newborn and toddler is very difficult. While it may sound like a punishment for our son it is just as much as a sacrifice for Erin to not be able to turn on the TV to distract our son to get work done or even be able to take a shower.
Instead, by removing the TV it has forced our son to play more using his imagination. More importantly, they have spent more time reading and playing together. There is no better way to understand the relationship we should have with God then seeing an amazing Mom like Erin read to our son.
I still have about 3 weeks left of this. While I do plan to go back to using Facebook and playing Candy Crush I need to do so in moderation. I need to continue to serve my family and keep helping where I am needed. Also, I really need to look for opportunities to help rather than wait for someone to ask.
Now, this post has been more personal than usual. I do hope that you can relate whether you follow lent or not. We all have distractions that keep us more distant from those of us we care about. Being able to recognize those and phase them out of our lives to serve others will bring a personal fulfillment that we might be searching for in other places.
So, what are your distractions?