Several years ago I developed a really bad habit as a coping mechanism during a very dark time in my life–I watched t.v.
Now before you think I’m getting all Amish on you, let me explain what I mean. I had been watching t.v. before this all happened. Watching t.v., in and of itself, was not the problem. The problem was that my reason for watching t.v. had changed.
Rather than watching t.v. on occasion, taking in a show or two each week that I enjoyed, I had the t.v. on ALL THE TIME. I was going through a really dark season in my life and I was fairly depressed, so rather than face times of silence alone with my thoughts, I flipped on the t.v. It was a way of escaping my problems, fears, and insecurities. It distracted me from the things I didn’t want to think about, and it became a kind of refuge.
Although I don’t use t.v. for that reason anymore, my habit has essentially remained the same. Whenever I’m alone in my room or the house, I have the t.v. blaring. Even if I’m not watching it–maybe I’m cleaning my room or doing laundry–I’ll still have it on in the background. Every morning while I get ready for the day I listen to Good Morning America and Regis and Kelly chatting it up, almost as a kind of ambient noise.
Now in light of this behavior, I have come to a very important decision– it’s time for me to break the addiction! No more t.v. for me, and I can’t think of a better time to start than this Wednesday.
“Why this Wednesday?” you ask. “Isn’t that a little random?” Well that’s a great question! The reason I chose this Wednesday is because it’s the beginning of Lent.
Now for a lot of you reading this right now, you don’t really know what Lent is. I wrote a blog about it last year that you can check out here, but in short, it’s the 40 days leading up to Easter. For a significant part of my life I thought it was some weird tradition that only Catholics celebrated by giving up chocolate, but ever since college I’ve started observing it myself, and it’s been awesome. Which is why I’m inviting you to try it this year if you haven’t before.
The idea behind Lent is that you prepare for Easter, the time of remembering Christ’s death and resurrection, by reflecting on what Christ did for you on the cross. Throughout the history of the Church, Christians have traditionally done this by engaging in a type of fast. You identify something that you love or depend on, and abstain from it for 40 days.
For me, Lent is a time when I like to identify false saviors in my life–idols that I have come to rely on in place of Christ. Once I’ve identified them, I use Lent as a time to eliminate them. 40 days is just long enough to reverse those bad habits.
Last year I gave up gossip, which might seem sort of obvious but is actually quite hard. If you’ve never engaged in a gossip diet, check out my blog here for further details. But this year I’m giving up watching t.v. When I am alone for the next 40 days, I will be alone in silence. No more Regis and Kelly. No more Gilmore Girls re-runs.
Sometimes the prospect of this fast is daunting, but I think it will push me to pray more. It will also compel me to seek God as my refuge, rather than superficial distractions. Although a simple practice, I think it will enhance my relationship with God if I let it.
So as Wednesday approaches, I encourage you to observe Lent with me. Pray about what God might have you abstain from. Are there any false saviors in your life from which you need to fast? I also encourage you to post your ideas here, not for the sake of bragging, but giving ideas to other people. There are SO many false saviors in our lives that sometimes we don’t even see them all, so it’s helpful when others identify them for you.
I look forward to hearing your ideas, and I hope you will be blessed and transformed by it!