Thursday, May 1, 2008

Lent (Archive from March 2008)

I just thought I would share my experience from my first week of Lent... if you have time then read on.

I have to admit that my main source of daily news is from the internet. I do NOT turn on the TV in the morning to catch up on world news (although I do use it for weather and traffic reports). If I pick up the paper in the breakroom at work, it is usually the Entertainment section, Weekend Guide, Food section or even (I hate to admit this) Dear Abby. My normal morning routine is to get to work about 20 minutes before 8:00, sit down at my computer and open MSN. I scan the MSNBC News headlines (which is mainly politics and the presidential primaries right now), then scroll down to the Sports (but not as much now that football is over), and then I (would) normally indulge myself in the Entertainment section. Why is it that I HAVE to read about Brittany Spears checking in and out of the hospital, the details about the maid who called Ashley Olson before 911 when she found Heath Ledger lying dead on his bed, or if Lindsey Lohan is heading back to rehab because she took a drink on New Years Eve? It is scary (and upsetting when I write this) that I know this much about people that I have no relationship with... Why is it that I am obsessed with the constant negativity of people in entertainment? Why am I feeding the very machine of media obsession by clicking on these stories, picking up the magazines, watching the Daily 10 (entertainment news program) on TV?

About a week before Lent started, Trey and I sat down together to do our bible study and discussed what we would like to "give up" for Lent. As you know, I decided to stop drinking coffee and Trey has given up his favorite thing in the world (pizza). These are semi-major food items in our life that would require some restraint to give up... I also decided to participate in the daily readings provided by IBC to add to my personal time with God every morning. So instead of sitting down at my computer each morning and opening MSN, I go directly to ibclent.com and listen to the reading of the scriptures, lesson and prayer. I did this the very first morning (Ash Wednesday) and the lesson took less than 5 minutes, so of course I then opened MSN as usual. I scanned the MSNBC news headlines, sports, and then scrolled down to the Entertainment section. That evening, Trey, Sophia and I went to the Ash Wednesday service at church. As with IBC, I am fairly new to celebrating Lent in my personal life. I always considered it part of the Catholic faith and did not participate in the past. Although I missed most of Andy's teaching that night (thanks to my precious daughter who could not sit still or remain quiet so I was forced to hold her in the hallway), I did get to participate in the reflection time after the service. People were praying, receiving their blessings with ashes, reading the needs board, and starting their journey of Lent together with God. After Trey took Sophia for me so that I would have time to pray and reflect, I felt God speaking to me. (By the way, it is not as profound as it sounds - when God speaks to me it is on my own voice in my head and is usually something I already know in my heart but he just used this quiet opportunity to bring this thought to the surface). Why do I spend some much time reading about unnecessary, irrelevant issues of others when I could be using this time to grow closer to God? How much would our relationship change if I put him first every morning, instead of my daily dose of "entertainment".

So I made up my mind to give up my interest/obsession of the Entertainment world. It mainly started with my decision to skip reading the entertainment section of MSN. Yesterday at the gym I walked past one of the TV's and noticed an entertainment news show was on - and I forced myself to look away kept walking (I almost felt guilty that I had even seen it on). I didn't tell Trey about this decision for a few days (it seems like a silly thing to give up), but I feel that the meaning behind it has made a strong impact on my relationship with God already. I have more time for him, more attention for him, and a less cluttered mind so that I can focus on him. Why should I be concerned about Brittany Spear's dad trying to fire her manager (a current entertainment headline on MSN), when Jesus is in the garden of Gethsemane feeling sadness and anguish as he pleads with his father to "let this cup pass" but "if this cup cannot pass by, but i must drink it, your will be done!"

I just wanted to share the beginning of this experience with all of you and I hope to see lasting changes from this "fasting" during Lent. Also, if I ask you if you know who Jennifer Anniston is dating of if Angelina Jolie is really pregnant with twins... just look at me blankly and walk away. I hope you are all having a great week.
Stephanie

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