This year, I decided to participate in Lent for the first time. It was never something that I practiced before moving out West, but many of my church friends out here do, so I wanted to give it a try.
I decided to give up noise and self-concern this year – you can about why here!
24 hours into Lent, I already hated it. I didn’t think that giving up podcasts, background music, YouTube videos and radio shows would be that difficult, but it was brutal. I never realized just how much silence I was filling with them! For the better part of the first week of Lent, I felt trapped in my own head. Who knew I had so many thoughts?!
I tried really hard to remember the main reason I gave up noise in the first place – to start listening for God’s voice and direction in my life. And in the first week or two, I did this. I spent more time in prayer, and focused on listening instead of talking. I had a few good revelations about God’s intention for relationships, and also started to really understand how God sees me:
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.
Ephesians 1: 4-6
I started to internalize more God’s promises and His view of me, and I have really started to believe that He delights in us!
On the self-concern front, I found this to be quite simple at first. Any time I wanted to pray for my own circumstances, I stopped and reminded myself to pray for the other person instead, or to thank God for the people in my life.
Then things took a turn…I ended up re-installing Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Podcasts back onto my phone. I got caught up once again in blocking out my own thoughts, avoiding prayer and reflection, and filling space with noise. It’s so much more comfortable to not have to come face to face with my own thoughts, fears, disappointments, anxieties, and failures.
The interesting thing is that after I started failing in my noise fast, I started failing in my fast from self-concern too. I reverted back to thinking about myself, worrying about myself, and not really seeking to serve.
I don’t think this is a coincidence: spending time in silence and more time listening for God’s will had resulted in a change of priorities for me, from my own desires to God’s desires, and from self-concern to service. When I stopped tuning my heart to God, I also stopped serving others.
This verse from 2 Corinthians comes to mind when I think about my fasts, and my failure:
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone; the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17
If I want to become a new creation, transformed by Christ’s grace and salvation, then I need to be in Christ. I’ve learned that ‘being in Christ’ means more than just believing – it means being proactive, and resting in Him!
Now, at the halfway point of Lent, I’m doubling down my efforts to fast from noise and from self-concern so I can learn to rest in Him and become a new creation. Today, I’m deleting everything off my phone again, and I’m going to let silence be silent.
“Progress means getting nearer to the place you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.”
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Hopefully the second half of Lent is more fruitful than the first!
What have you learned from fasting for Lent so far? Have you stuck to your fasts?