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What I'm gaining ... not giving up!

"Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry." (Matthew Chapter 4:1-3)

For the past seven years I have observed the 40 days before Easter as a time of sacrifice in my life. In the Christian liturgical year this time is referred to as Lent. Growing up in the Baptist church, we were never really acquainted with the Lenten period, so it wasn't until I began going to the Methodist Church, and eventually becoming a Methodist that I realized how important this season of the Christian year is.

Many people think that Lent is strictly about "giving something up," but in all reality it is actually about what we gain. It is not simply making a sacrifice, but taking the time that wo
uld normally be dedicated to the sacrificed action to be a time of prayer and reflection on the blessings you do have in life. Sometimes, when I have observed Lent, I have not done this part, simply because I did not understand that it was required of me, or because I was not spiritually disciplined enough to do so. I have "given up" several things for Lent— beef and eating out at restaurants to name a few, but I have never scheduled a Lent celebration in a way that I could actually use my sacrificed time to dedicate to God in a tangible way.

So, this year, I have decided to forgo social networking. Beginning today, I will no longer frequent Facebook or Myspace (and I just realized Twitter, so much for updates from my pregnant friends!). I really struggled if to include blogger in this as well, but decided that it was necessary because 1. I can use it as a way to communicate WHY I am dedicating myself to this task, 2. We keep a blogger account for my company and it is part of my job to update it and I didn't want to make things difficult there and 3. My blogger is connected to my facebook account, so my facebook friends can at least be notified through my blogger posts that I am alive and well. : )

However, I will not be simply "giving up" social networking, I will be replacing it. I have decided that every time I am bored and wa
nt to check out what folks are doing, I will use this time on the net to read Christian resources, I will visit Bible Gateway, The Christian Century, or Christianity Today or maybe I'll do some studies on other religions and take a tour of beliefnet, but overall I will trade my social networking time and instead make it focused on God. I also encourage my friends and family on facebook and myspace to call me. I will not be answering your messages on my wall or little notes, and I still want to know what's happening in your life. As one of my Facebook friends put it, "The real world is better anyway," and I agree, I would much rather talk to you than a one-liner on a social networking site!

When Jesus was in the desert, he was hungry, and I know there will be times when I simply want to "check" my account. Be it to see how many apps I have been nominated for, or if I have any Friend Requests, but I won't. Lent is not about what I am giving up ... it's what I am gaining — a sense of peace, a more intimate way to communicate with friends, and finally a closer relationship w
ith the one who gave himself up — the least I can do is return a small part of the favor.

Tonight is the Ash Wednesday service at most Methodist and Catholic Churches, and I will be attending. Once the ash cross makes its way onto my brow the season begins and it's Peace out Facebook, Twitter and Myspace — See you on Easter!

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