I understand that we go to a Christian college, and I understand that our college aligns with the CRC. I understand that we’re not a Catholic institution, and neither am I Catholic – though I do have a good number of Catholic friends on campus!
Regardless, I still give up something for Lent every year. I’ve found that there’s a lot of value in ritual and in repetition, in making an annual, conscious change to my normal routine. By taking something out of my life for forty short days, I’ve broken the monotony; I’m no longer merely going through the motions.
Last year, for example, I gave up all beverages except for water and sent all the money I saved to Blood:Water Mission to fund wells in Rwanda. I’ve had friends who have given up looking in the mirror to re-grasp their concept of identity, friends who have given up looking at the clock to enjoy every moment without counting down, friends who have given up hot showers to identify with those who don’t have as much privilege. This year, I gave up social media and unnecessary texting. So texting my parents to get insurance information? That’s necessary. Texting my friends to see what’s up, to ask any question that can wait until the next time I see them in person? That’s unnecessary.
Instead of texting all my friends every evening to see what time they’re eating dinner, I’ll just show up in the commons and eat with whoever’s already there.
Instead of having a really fun Friday night for the sake of making a like-worthy post, I’ll just have a really fun Friday night for the sake of having a really fun Friday night with really fun people.
Instead of checking my Instagram/Facebook/Snapchat/Pinterest newsfeeds between classes, I’ll head to my next class a little early and talk with whoever’s already there – sometimes only the professor, but it’s always a good time!
Instead of texting my friends to ask what grade they got on their test, what sorts of questions were asked during their job interview, or how their day is going, I wait until our paths cross and enable us to have a meaningful, face-to-face conversation, often with a cup of tea as an added bonus.
Instead of spending my spring break obsessing over what all my friends are up to, I’m enjoying being home and being with my family, going on bike rides and watching movies and skiing and doing all sort of stereotypical Colorado activities that don’t need to be posted about to be worthwhile.
In deviating from my comfortable habits, I’ve created space in my life for God to work. Actually, that’s ridiculous. God’s at work whether I’m conscious of it or not. Let’s try that again…
In deviating from my comfortable habits, I’ve created space in my life to become aware of God’s hand in the intricacies.
And He’s definitely at work in the intricacies. There are so many people on this campus with so many powerful stories, and hearing those stories verbally instead of on Snapchat has added so much meaning, so much laughter to my life. There are so many powerful chapters in the Bible and so many powerful worship songs based off those passages – who would’ve thought, huh? And since I can’t scroll mindlessly when my homework is done but I’m too caffeinated to fall asleep, I crack open the scriptures or pull out my guitar or pray with my roommate instead.
Best of all, having taking this intentional step to prepare for Easter, all of our on-campus, faith-based events have become so much more meaningful for me. In the hour between the end of my night class and the start of Thursday night praise & worship, I’ll pull out my journal and sort through my own thoughts instead of reading others’ 140-character thoughts. In turn, I'm already in a state of worship when the first note is sung, and I don't have to spend half the service getting my heart in the proper posture. Instead of being distracted by the vibration in my pocket during Sunday night GIFT, I’m fully engaged with the guest speaker. Wednesday morning chapel with Aaron Baart has seemed so much more vibrant to me recently, and that vibrancy spills over into my Crayola-colored prayer journal. Conversations with my boss Kimberly Brinkerhoff have become invaluable to me; my heart has been more full lately, and sharing that overflow with Kim’s own overflowing heart has become the most precious part of my weekly schedule. This campus is full of opportunities to grow my faith, and temporarily giving up social media has permanently opened my eyes to it all.
Ultimately, I’m feeling more alive having given up social media for these few weeks, and being more alive seems to be the perfect way to celebrate Christ’s life, death, and resurrection in a few weeks.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” – Ephesians 2:4-7