A #smallshift at Lent

I have never really observed Lent (the 40 days before Easter) before. Sure, I have maybe given up something here or there, but it hasn’t been something I have made a dedicated practice in my life.

This year, as Lent  approached, I felt drawn to participate. Partly because we have been talking about #smallshifts on the blog. And partly because for the past couple of months I have been praying about shifts I need to implement in my life to be more of the woman God wants me to be. One of those areas is having more self-control. Lent seemed like the perfect time to focus on that.

Honestly, my thought process was – this will be a good motivation for me to cut out some things that are getting in the way of my growth and will help me become more disciplined. But after doing some reading about the true purposes of Lent, cutting things out so I can be a better version of myself is actually not the point of Lent. If that was the case, the focus would be on me and my self-discipline and how well I accomplished those goals. Although I think it would be good to go a period of time with a focus on disciplining myself in certain areas, I am realizing that Lent is so much more than that. And it lies in my intent.

Lent actually is fasting. At first that turned me off a little because I’ve never really successfully fasted. I fasted from food once in college but felt so sick by the end that honestly I’ve been scared to attempt it again. ?

However as I read about fasting, I was reminded that the point of fasting is to go without something to better focus on what we are truly hungering for spiritually. And that thought really connects with me right now.

What is satisfying me?

I feel like I have been trying to satisfy my hunger with things I know won’t ultimately satisfy me. And one of those things is social media. I am a very social person, and what originally drew me to social media years ago was interacting with people. I also love words so it’s an abundance of words and people, which couldn’t be more perfect for me! ?

Over time I have found that I can go to social media in ways that aren’t helpful for me. Like comparing my everyday life with everyone’s highlight reel. (We wrote more about that here.) Like checking out of my life because I’m a little bored and want to see something more thrilling than my reality of playing house. Like wanting to post perfect pictures when in reality, life feels far from it.  Like scrolling at night when everyone’s finally asleep and realizing too much time has passed in the mindless surfing…and then realizing none of the scrolling actually added much to my life.

I still enjoy social media. I enjoy seeing the cute pictures of my friends’ kids and I enjoy reading about some of the thoughts of people I admire. But if I’m super honest, I’m realizing I have been using social media to satisfy something that it is not intended to satisfy. Or maybe I’m not looking for it to satisfy me, but at least distract me.

What does this have to do with Lent?

So back to Lent… I read this quote and felt it confirmed so much of what I’ve been feeling: “Each one of us lives with needs—physical needs and the need for love, security, and community—that we often bury or try to hide by filling our lives with ‘stuff’ and relationships that can never really make us happy or give us peace. And so, Lenten fasting means that we set aside those things with which we self-medicate so that we can be free to recognize what our real hungers and desires are—including our desire for God. Only God can truly satisfy the deepest desires and needs of our hearts.” 

And then I read Henri Nouwen’s words and it further explained why I was connecting with Lent: “Lent is a time of returning to God. It is a time to confess how we keep looking for joy, peace, and satisfaction in many people and things surrounding us, without really finding what we desire. Only God can give us what we want…Lent is a time of refocusing, of reentering the place of truth and reclaiming our true identity.”

Returning to God. Refocusing. Reclaiming my identity. All of that put words to what I have been needing. Lent is a time to put aside the things that may be distracting me from digging deeper into my relationship with Him. It’s time to embrace the grace God gives me and put aside striving to perform or being productive to earn God’s love.

As I began pondering this shift I realized I could so easily make this about my works instead of my heart. I could easily focus on changing my behavior for 40 days instead of a change growing in my heart. After all, I’m the girl that really excelled at sticker charts when I was younger. ? But at the same time, what if I don’t excel at this shift? What if I find myself falling back into my old pattern of scrolling? I keep hearing God remind me in my heart, Lent has nothing to do with behavior modification and everything to do with inviting more of God into my heart. He doesn’t expect perfection or production out of me, only a heart tuned into Him.

What if instead of focusing on what discipline I can muster up, I shift to asking the Holy Spirit to fill me in these 40 days? What if I asked Him to help me stay tuned into the ways I look to other things to satisfy or distract me?

That doesn’t mean making disciplined decisions isn’t a good focus for Lent. After all, Galatians 5 says that one of the ways we know that the Holy Spirit’s presence  is in our lives is through self-control.  But just fasting from something in and of itself isn’t going to produce self-control. Instead of cutting out social media or sugar or wine, what if Lent was a time for me to invite the Holy Spirit into my life in a deeper way by eliminating some of the things that may be distracting me from doing that?

What about the blog?                                                                                                      

As I began thinking about this idea of fasting from social media for Lent so I can quiet the noise around me and make more space to hear from God, one major excuse kept coming to my mind: our blog. We have been daily posting on our blog’s social media pages as a way to consistently connect to our readers.

And yep, you guessed it. Once I identified the reason for why I couldn’t go off social media, I realized I needed to.

For me, Lent has become a time for me to lay down some of the things that become all-consuming so that I can give that space back to God. To “cease [my] endless striving” (Psalm 46:10) and hold onto the truth that I don’t need to do anything to earn God’s unconditional love and grace. ?

What does this mean?

We have had many conversations as a team and have decided for the next 40 days of Lent we are going to take a break. Physically. Emotionally. Spiritually. Many of us on the team have been working really hard on this blog for almost three years without much of a break at all. And though we’ve loved this project, we are feeling the need to step away for a time to make space to hear from God.

We would love to invite you, this wonderful mom community, to pray with us for fresh vision in our own lives and in the blog. We will miss posting these next 40 days, but we look forward to gaining new insight in the time away.

In the meantime, we want to leave you with a few Lent and Easter resources for you and your kids. Check out our “Truth to Inhale” below for lots of ideas.

What does this mean for you?

As I sign off, I’m curious if reading these words stirred anything in you. Is there something God is asking you to give up for a time so that you can better hear from Him? Or grow closer to Him? Again, it’s not about the “giving up” but it’s about the intent of pushing aside the clutter to embrace more of Him. ?

Please share below if you have any thoughts. We love love love hearing from you all. It’s such encouragement to us! ?

? Michelle

Soaking in the Truth

Scripture to encourage you:

  • But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV)
  • fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” (Hebrews 12:2 NIV)
  • “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10 NASB)
  • “That is why the Lord says, ‘Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts.’” (Joel 2:12 NLT)

Music to inspire you:

Readings and Resources to come alongside of you:

Related Posts on Texting The Truth:

Living Out the Truth

Ideas to try:

  • Set up reminders on your phone throughout the day to stop and pray. Maybe start slowly with one reminder at breakfast. Let the alarm remind you to praise God and thank Him for a single specific blessing in your life (ex. A warm home, comfortable bed, husband, each child, the warmer weather that will one day arrive 😉 etc…Change the reminders to keep it fresh.  
  • Check out a fasting devotional on YouVersion. Some are related to food and some are more general such as our speech.
  • Consider the question: What is one small shift you could make during Lent?

Treasured Products we love:

(Disclaimer: We know Lent may have officially started but who says you can’t start midway through (and if you’re doing it with your kids, they will never know!)? If you’re looking for something to prepare your heart for Easter, check those resources out!)

{These suggestions are ideas from novice moms. Sometimes our life situations need more. In that case, seeking out professional help is the right call.}

One thought on “A #smallshift at Lent

  1. Oh how I love this. Pierced my heart and soul. 🙂 Yes, I am so good at checklists and can make this about ME and MY self-discipline, but I love how you brought up the real reason and meaning of Lent. “Returning to God. Refocusing. Reclaiming my identity.” Yes. This is what I need during this season as well. Thank you, my friend. You’ve inspired and reminded me – so thankful for you and this blog that continually point me back and challenge me to draw closer to God.

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