Now is the time to begin

Welcome to March — and Lent! I’ll let you in on a secret. You want to know how I remember we’ve arrived at the Lenten season? Every Friday I forget that it’s Lent until about lunchtime when I realize that I’ve packed a sandwich with delicious cold cuts that I can’t eat. It’s at that point that I’m stomping my feet and silently seething with frustration (and hunger) that I remember that I am an active member of a season of sacrifice. 

This tends to calm me down, but it never quite makes the longing for my sandwich go away! These weekly reminders are coupled with the age-old question of what I’m giving up for Lent, something that I’ve grappled with this year. It’s not that I haven’t critically assessed what I should give up in the past, but this year in particular has caused me to pause. 

What is it that has been consuming my attention, taking me away from Christ and all that He has to offer me? Though trite sounding, technology has done a bit of a number on me this year and it’s found itself on the top of my Lenten sacrifice list. I’ll explain. 

For years I put off entering into the world of modern technology via the Smartphone. In my junior year of college I left for my study abroad experience in Italy and I remember thinking that when I got back there was going to be no avoiding it — I would have to buy into the Smartphone generation. That’s right. I had convinced myself that in just three short months a technological revolution would take over cell phone providers as we knew them and I’d be roped into the craze, with no option of your basic phone call device. 

Imagine my surprise then when I returned home and this hadn’t happened. What bliss! Why, you ask, was I so adamant against the Smartphone in the first place? For the very reason that I’m giving it up for Lent. I had a suspicion that once I got one I would be hooked on all that it had to offer: Email at my fingertips? Yes! Pinterest just a swipe away? Amazing! The touch screen texting? Turns out I love it. Games like Trivia Crack? It’s a handheld mental workout! But what’s really got me is what I had never anticipated being an issue — Facebook. I don’t think I’m much of social media hog, but when it comes to Facebook, I find myself clicking on my app now more than ever. 

Whether I’m checking the newsfeed or looking at pictures someone posted, it’s time that I could be spending in a much more meaningful way. So that’s the first thing to change, starting this Lenten season. Right now I’m on a “strictly-for-work” Facebook hiatus. I only go on to maintain the page I use for my students. Other than that, I’m off. What is going to make this an even greater challenge is adding to my break from technology. Each week, another app will be sacrificed. No Pinterest may be where I face the greatest challenge, but when one thinks about the greater sacrifice that we are constantly reminded of during Lent, Pinterest seems like a drop in the ocean. It’s this greater, Living Sacrifice, that of Jesus Christ, that we reflect on as we offer up our own. For without that, nothing else would matter. And perhaps what I want to emphasize the most is that during these 40 days we will falter.

We will eat that sandwich on Friday without even realizing what we’ve done. We will cave, and find ourselves browsing Pinterest for 20 minutes. Our sacrifices may weigh on us and we’ll feel as if we can’t continue to live without what we’ve given up. 

But I’ll call on the Point of Grace song, “How You Live,” to share a message that I’m working to live out this Lent as we face what can sometimes be a journey characterized by stops and starts. The words are simple but beautiful and they read: “Oh wherever you are and wherever you’ve been. Now is the time to begin.” Even if we have a Lenten relapse, we are encouraged to pick ourselves up and start again. The next day is a new day, where we can make our small sacrifices again, with no judgment and total forgiveness.

Anchor columnist Renee Bernier graduated from Stonehill College and is a graduate student in the College Student Personnel Program at James Madison University in Harrison, Va.

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