Carbs and chocolate – those were my usual when it came to giving up something for Lent in high school. I had mistakenly taken the season of Lent as a more powerful motivator for a diet than an opportunity to grow in holiness. I saw it as a time where I could wrap my desire for a perfect body safely under the umbrella of fasting, rather than see it as a true opportunity for God to move in powerful ways.
I had always known that this was probably not the best practice for Lent, but it wasn’t until I was challenged by my youth minister to give up something for the sake of making me a better person (not just skinnier) that I finally made a change.
So my junior year of high school I gave up TV.
It was not easy by any means – but that was one of the greatest Lents I had ever had. During those 40 days of no channel surfing, no movies, and no binging on my favorite shows I learned three very impactful things.
It is really awkward to watch people watch TV.
I grew up in a family where we spent a lot of time together watching TV. We watched TV when we ate meals, we watched TV on the weekend nights, and we would go to the movies a lot. Not that any of those things are bad in moderation – but when I was suddenly on the outside looking in I quickly realized that it was not really quality time.
I would still try to spend time with my family even though I was not watching TV by at least sitting in the same room with them – but it just got weird to watch them watch TV. I think they started sensing it too.
Slowly they realized too that things would have to change as far as our family time together if I was no longer watching TV. Let’s just say this made a huge impact in the long run as far as how my family spends time together now.
I hadn’t been managing my time well.
Up to this point I always complained about not having enough time to get my homework done, or to study for that test, or to make it to all my sports practices, or to see my friends. I also would feel guilty when I got to the end of the day and hadn’t prayed – and I would just blame it on not having enough time.
Well guess what happened when I cut out 14 hours a week of TV time (that is assuming I only watched 2 hours a day)!? BOOM. Everything in my life started falling into place and I had SO much more time in my days to do everything I needed to – and during Lent I worked to make it a habit that prayer time was a must each day.
There is a whole big world out there.
I had been so entrenched in my TV shows for so long and living my life through the excitement of the different characters that I didn’t realize how MUCH of my own life I was missing out on. When I had more time in my day I started creating more real memories of my own – of things that actually happened in my life, not just memories of liking a certain TV show.
I was able to not only dig more into my relationship with Jesus – but I also started playing my guitar more, reading more books, having more conversations with my family members, and going on more adventures with my friends. I started really loving my life and all it had to offer off the couch.
To say that this Lent was incredibly fruitful would be an understatement. I learned so much about my own habits, proper time management, and true fasting during those few weeks. The impact carried far into college and my adult life and I really never went back to watching that much TV.
As a result I have so many fun memories of great adventures, a true understanding of the importance of prayer time, and a list of numerous hobbies I love.
So this Lent I really challenge you to fast from something that has the potential to make you a better, holier person, to pick something that is hard and challenging, and see all the ways that God can work in your life when you give Him the time to do so.
To enter more deeply into the season of Lent with a daily prayer companion, check out Glorious Wounds.