Learning From Lent: How Is God Calling You To Be Obedient?
The other day my husband told me that he was considering deleting his Facebook account. In my heart and mind, I did not react to this as a loving, supportive wife. My first thought (in a somewhat snippy tone) was, “Well that’s just silly”. I didn’t stop to ask him why. I didn’t stop to think that he might have valid reasons for it. I just mentally snapped at him over it. Thankfully I didn’t say this out loud, but yeah, definitely not my best moment as a wife.
I’m sure some of you out there are gasping in shock that I would react this way to something my husband said, but let me explain a little something about myself. I have a tendency to take things personally. By ‘things’, I really mean EVERYTHING. I tend to feel that most people are sitting in silent judgment of me. No, this isn’t because I’m some colossally self-absorbed person. No, this is not because I think the world revolves around me. I am what is known as a ‘highly sensitive person‘. One particular trait of highly sensitive people is that we tend to take things personally, intensely FEAR doing anything ‘wrong’, and be deeply hurt by criticism. For those of you who aren’t this way, suffice it to say that we tend to take everything that people say to us personally, even when it isn’t intended that way. So, when my husband said he was going to delete his Facebook what I heard was something to the effect of, “I’m probably going to delete my Facebook and I can’t believe you aren’t doing that. Facebook is bad and wrong and if you use it you are bad and wrong.” Yes, logically I get that I was reading into his words, but it’s how my highly sensitive mind interprets things.
This same process happens every year as Lent approaches. I hear my friends talking about the different things they are sacrificing for Lent and my heart feels heavy with the weight of all the things I am clearly doing wrong. If they aren’t eating sweets, clearly I shouldn’t be. If they aren’t watching TV, clearly I shouldn’t be. If they are giving up Facebook, I must be wrong for continuing to use it. While occasionally this attitude is attached to people talking about their chosen sacrifice for the season of Lent, more often than not it is me reading into it. So, as I write here about what I feel God calling me to do this Lent, hear me now when I say that I am NOT telling you that you need to do what I am. I am NOT saying that if you do what I give up you are bad or wrong. I am telling you what I felt God calling me to do and the lesson I believe he is teaching me through it. What I am saying is that we should all humbly come to God and ask Him if there is something specific he wants us to change right now. That is what I am doing this year for Lent.
While I was in the shower this morning, as I often do, I was having some quiet time with God. It’s one of the few completely quiet times for me. Nobody talking to me, no TV, no music, no kids to watch. Just me and my thoughts and God. Thus I have some of my biggest epiphanies in the shower. Today I had a few. One was about why I reacted so negatively to my husband’s plans to stop using Facebook. As I continued to spill out my thoughts to God, it turned to my daily life. God pointed out that I have been depending on TV as my form of ‘escape’. It has become a habit to turn to it first when I’m feeling overwhelmed. I use it to hide. From my problems, from my fears, from the world. Clearly, TV is not where I’m meant to turn for comfort and peace. So, for the time being, I’m pushing TV to the back-burner. The bulk of my free time will not include it. I’ll still watch an occasional show with my husband (there are some shows we watch together as a ‘date’ each week).
As I was discussing this all with one of my dearest friends, God used her to give me one of those ‘smack you upside the back of your head’ epiphanies. I was explaining my difficulties figuring out what to give up and she said, “Silly girl. Lent isn’t about giving things up. It’s about obedience.” Oh man, that cut right to the heart of things. I still hadn’t quite understood what God was trying to tell me. It wasn’t that God was saying that me watching TV was bad, it’s that He wanted me to be obedient to his command to go to Him for my comfort. To seek Him in my moments of fear. To draw close to God instead of withdrawing and retreating into my own space.
So, that is what I am working on during this Lent. I will cultivate the habit of seeking God first. How is God calling you to be obedient?