Around this time of year, many Christians celebrate what is called “Lent”. For forty days prior to Easter they fast from something in preparation for Easter. This thing they fast from is something they desire, something they crave deeply that they feel they can’t live without. This is to set time aside to reflect on Easter and on the Death and Resurrection of Christ.
Back when I was in college we would receive e-mails from our R.A.’s about Lent many of them talking about what they were giving up. One year I gave up soda pop. That’s right forty days without those sugary sweet carbonated beverages. Along with spiritual reasons I had the tendency to drink three glasses during lunch and dinner. That’s six glasses of soda pop a day.
Was it difficult? You bet, especially when my speech team went to Los Angeles for our National’s Tournament and I couldn’t order pop with my meal. Giving up pop was one of the more common fasts on campus, and perhaps the easiest. Some students gave up dessert, others gave up TV and movies. Some even gave up… Facebook. Yes, that infamous social networking site that we are all pretty much connected to. Forty days without status messages, game requests, or at that time throwing digital sheep.
It sounds strange to those unfamiliar with the tradition to give something up. Perhaps even more so in 21st Century America. As a society we thrive on self-indulgence. Food, cars, computers, everything we can get. Our commercials talk directly to us, urging us to reap the rewards we deserve.
However, the process of fasting can have more benefits than just spiritual. For example when I gave up soda pop for Lent I found that I was not only growing more spiritually, but I stared choosing healthier drinks. I was also getting more sleep and becoming less irritable. At first it was difficult because of the headaches from going cold turkey on the caffeine but in general I became much healthier, in fact that is also the case for those who gave up candy, chocolate and other junk foods
Maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad thing once in a while if we all took a break, not just from our junk food, but from our technology, and not just for purely religious purposes either. In our society we are quickly becoming like the people in the floaty chairs on the space ship Axiom in the movie Wall-E. There doesn’t seem to be any way to stop it, and in fact some would even argue that it is all part of progress as our sweets and our technology make our lives happier and easier.
Flash Fact: Life is not easy. It’s not fun. It’s not supposed to be. Life is usually always going to be hard.
There is going to be difficulties among this road we all travel. The meaningless things in life are no doubt going to be easy. However the important things in life, the things that really matter, are going to come with difficulty. Those important things in life are not going to come if we sit around on Facebook all day eating doughnuts. They come with hard work, dedication, sacrifice, and perseverance.
Perhaps in giving up TV or the Internet of Facebook, we can find ourselves spending more time outside, reading books, and even forming deeper connections with people outside the Matrix of cyberspace. I once went 2 days without logging onto the internet, and it actually felt good. Especially because I actually got more accomplished in those 48 hours then I had in a typical week.
It’s funny, for centuries we got by fine without any of the things I mentioned. It’s only been within the span of the last century that any of these things had any real dominance in our lives, let alone even existed. Maybe in taking a break every now and then from those things we think we want, we can find that which we really need.
It’s a difficult choice, one not unlike the one presented to Morpheus in The Matrix, “Take the Red pill and you can see just how far this rabbit hole really goes.”
Life is that rabbit hole. By taking the Red Pill, we can experience life abundantly. I’m not just talking about the physical life, but spiritually, mentally, and emotionally as well. Most importantly, we’ll find that we can do it without these things that have us wired into our world.
Well, except maybe we won’t be able to do those sweet martial arts moves from The Matrix.