I woke up groggy and checked the clock. My son was still asleep, and I had managed to get an extra glorious hour of shut-eye. A particularly nasty cold was circulating around our house, and I suspected that he was the most recent victim. He always seems to sleep longer right before he gets sick.
My first instinct after waking and looking at the clock was to grab my phone and scroll through social media. I caught myself right as I hit the home button. How is it that such a small piece of technology had become so engrained into my every day life? I set my phone back down and began to get ready for the day.
I have spent the last three Lents either pregnant or breastfeeding. This year, my son was still nursing twice a day, and I was battling a nasty cold. The Church states that those who are nursing or ill are exempt from the abstinence and fasting requirements. So, on Ash Wednesday, rather than fasting and giving up meat, I chose to fast from social media and gave up the internet.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that I fill many tiny gaps in my day with technology. A part of me seemed to be uncomfortable with the idea of not being consistently connected to others through social media.
Don’t get me wrong; technology can certainly play a positive role in our lives. As a stay-at-home mommy with a feisty one-year-old, I sometimes crave a bit of adult interaction. There are definitely days in which social media and the blogging world have helped me keep my sanity. I follow several blogs about faith and motherhood that challenge me daily to be a better and more faithful person. I am so incredibly thankful for their wise words and that technology allows me to connect with other moms around the country.
However, when my first instinct after waking up is to scroll through social media, there is definitely a problem with my need to feel connected at all times.
I once met a nun who told me that the first thing she does each morning is raise her arms in the air, look towards the heavens and pray, “Thank you, Jesus!” The image seems quite comical, but her focus is exactly where it should be each morning. It is a simple gesture that sets the tone for the rest of her day.
That is what Lent is all about: turning our focus back to God. The first step to doing that is determining what obstacles are in the way. My Ash Wednesday fast from social media and the internet taught me quickly how much they consume my life. I have learned that I need designated times each day for social media and the internet. Otherwise, it begins to fill all the small gaps in my day that I could use to turn my attention to God. With a bit of planning, it is possible to use our God-given time each day more effectively and keep our focus on Him.
What obstacle is preventing you from turning your focus back to God?