Saturday, 23 April 2011

Coming back from exile

So, it's nearly Easter, and Lent finishes at Easter, doesn't it? Indeed, Easter Day marks the end of Lent, I believe, and all the fasting and abstinence and so on that we have been observing since Ash Wednesday back a month and a half ago.  Easter means feasting, celebrating, joy!  So the denial of Lent is over because on the third day, all those centuries ago, you rose from the dead.

This all seems a bit trivial, really. 

Still, I will push on.


All those who have given up chocolate for Lent will soon be tucking into their Easter Eggs, and those who gave up coffee will be brewing up and inhaling deeply.  No doubt those who gave up wine will be getting the corkscrew out, and those who didn't give up anything but instead did something positive for Lent will, they hope, be keeping up the good work. 

Which brings me to Facebook. Seems an age since I agonised and reluctantly decided to give it up for Lent.  (See 'Logging off for Lent'). Seems a long long time ago when it seemed that everyone had something to say about it, when I was wavering and wondering and hoping that there was something else I could give up that wasn't so precious to me - and now I'm on the brink of being back in the picture.  I decided that the proof of the pudding would be in the eating, and so now it's time to decide what's been going on over the last forty-five days. 

So what has it all been about?  To recap:  I was spending too much time on Facebook.  Quite often, I'm embarrassed to say, I was picking up my mobile to turn off the alarm in the morning and not putting it down until I'd checked in on Facebook.  Any time I was in a queue, waiting for the girls, killing the odd minute or ten, trying not to make eye contact with any of the intimidating mums outside school, there I'd be, checking to see who was doing what, who had said what, and adding my three penneth to conversations all over the place.  Last thing at night I'd be here at my computer and I'd look again to find out what was going on on Facebook, refreshing the page one last time, then again, to see if any pearls of wisdom would appear before I went to bed.  And then in bed chances were I'd check it again before I set the alarm.  And if it pinged again after I'd switched off the light, it wouldn't be beyond the realms of possibility that I might just have a last last quick glance and then reset the alarm. Of course, you know all this. It was definitely you who wanted me to take a look at my FB habit and see if anything needed doing. It did. 

So I was in the habit of looking at Facebook in a morning before I looked at my Bible, and I sometimes had the same in mind when I went to sleep. Of course, I have to qualify this by saying that Facebook itself is not at all bad.  I have many wonderful friends with whom staying in touch is easy and fun because of this means of communication.  I can see pictures of my friends' families even though they live in New Zealand, Australia, Senegal, Malaysia. I've got to know people better by sharing the minutiae of everyday life and given and received love and support because it's so easy to reach out in this way. I've laughed and cried in front of my computer because of Facebook and I have deepened existing relationships and cemented others.  I have shared my faith via Facebook. I've told people about this blog via Facebook. It's creative, simple, honest (if you make it so) and loving. It's a wonderful twenty first century invention and no wonder that millions of the world's population have a Facebook account. 

So why do I feel a bit ambivalent about my Grand Return to the world of social networking in the next few days?  

You and I have spent some special time together over the last few weeks, haven't we, Lord? I think that I have had a more meaningful Lent than I ever have before. Usually I give up something fairly meaningless (if I give up anything at all) and as you know, I've never really put myself out to keep it up, either. This time I was determined to fill my new found minutes with something positive so I've been reading the Bible and commentary excerpts from Martin Luther, AW Tozer, CS Lewis, Charles Spurgeon, Bill Hybels and a whole host of people who write and publish daily devotionals in bite size form for people like me. Some of the greatest minds in Christian history sharing their observations and insights with me

Some mornings something has captured my imagination and stayed in my head all day. At times when I'd probably have checked Facebook I've revisited what I read earlier and thought about it some more.  Other days I've emailed a reading to a friend because there's something there that I want to share.  True, there has been the odd day where I've rushed through, or the girls have jumped on me before I've had a chance to read what I want to read, but for the most part I have spent the first twenty minutes of every day with you, my Lord. That's new for me. As you know, I'm not a morning person.

What I have read has inspired me to write, to pray (I know, I know, this needs much more work) and I have felt distinctly different with words from the Bible, or from wise, learned and godly people in my head as I start the day. I've learned more about myself, and about you, and about you and me and how we relate to each other.  There's been space in my head because I removed something that was occupying a large part of it and created a void which you have filled with your spirit.  It has been amazing. It has been precious time. I don't want it to end. 

It has made an enormous difference to me and I don't want that to change. I have no intention of letting  that change.  I do, however, want to rejoin my Facebook family and so I need to sort out a way of accommodating it without letting it take over and demand the crown again.  I think I should definitely stick to my new found morning routine, so that's not negotiable.  Over and above that, however, I'm a bit in the dark as yet.  I have no plan.  Should I take FB off my phone, so that I can only access it when I'm in front of the computer?  Should I just say that a certain length of time per day is enough?  Half an hour?  An hour?  How should I measure that?  

So I'm going to have to find some willpower.  After the experiences I've had this Lent, I am motivated to maintain the habits that I've got into since I left Facebook behind for a while because it has been too good to lose.  I am sure that some people will be amused that it's still an issue with me, just as they were interested in my motivation for giving it up in the first place. You know me; I can analyse stuff and discuss it and dissect it until the cows come home so it will be no surprise to you, God, that I'm still wittering on about it with twenty four hours to go.

So I shall be back on Facebook soon, though not as much.  My morning offerings in the world of social networking will be more limited from now on; though I only ever used to moan about getting out of bed anyway, so not much loss to the world there.  I hope I can find a balance.  I pray that you'll let me know.

Thankyou for your patience with me.  Thankyou that you can work through modern technology as effortlessly as you work in more traditional ways.  Thankyou that you were so gentle in nudging me towards a few weeks where I thought a bit more, read a bit more, prayed a bit more, spent more time with you.  As we come up to Easter this year, it means more to me. 

And so, it was worth doing. 


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