Lent 2022 – the layer by layer

At the beginning of this year, the Lord had given me three words to live by, and those words were awareness, humility, and curiosity. After I settled down into these words for the year, we rolled into 2022 and I sensed the Lord calling me to do a fast. My church’s denomination typically does a 21 day fast at the beginning of the year, so I joined in. It wasn’t any different than any other year except for the fact that the Lord had pointed out that he would like me to fast from scrolling and snacking in the evenings. So, I gave it up. He said to stop snacking in the evening hours, and I did. Then about 2 weeks later, He said, “now stop scrolling.” This was a bit harder since I could feel my body instantly jerking to pick up my phone and look at it. Obviously, I was addicted to my phone.

I began to do the reading and the fasting. There wasn’t anything particularly astounding that stood out to me. It seemed this would be one of those spiritual disciplines that didn’t yield anything big, or bear any fruit. After 21 days, I had continued to not snack and scroll in the evening hours. I had learned from an earlier fast, a few years ago, that it’s easy to fall off the wagon and fall off hard. You can read about that here in my post titled The Death of Cake. My church had launched Springs Recovery. It is a program for those who have habits, hang-ups, and hurts who want to follow Jesus and become healed. I went to their relaunching to be a support to the team. I was surprised by the amazing message that their coordinator Jess gave. I love the way that she weaves words and attaches truth that hits the core of the heart in a very deep way. But it wasn’t until they started giving out chips. Chips are plastic coins to mark the number of days that you have followed what the Lord has asked of you. I sense the Holy Spirit prompting me to go forward and get a chip. I didn’t get up. Instead, I told Jess that I almost went up to get a chip. She asked me, “why didn’t you do it, you should do it?” It was as if the Holy Spirit was saying. “yeah, why didn’t you listen to Me?” So, I immediately went back to Josh, who was the one that was giving out the chips, and I said, “I need a chip” He went over to the box and he got a blue chip for me. Then I walked out into the lobby and I said loudly, “My name is Starla. I’m a grateful believer in Jesus Christ. I loved to snack and scroll on my phone at night, and it has got to stop.” Now granted I had already not been snacking and scrolling. (Full disclosure I had bailed off the bandwagon at least 2 evenings during the 21 days.) But by then I had been 28 days (7 since I have bailed the last time) not scrolling and snacking. The point of this was for me to admit this habit wasn’t healthy for me and acknowledge it.

Now here’s where it gets interesting because I had thought that this was a pretty normal 21 day fast and it didn’t yield a whole lot other than realizing just how much I was scrolling and snacking in the evening hours. But the thing that I was most surprised about was why I was snacking. And here’s the thing with God, He will ask us to do something in obedience, like a 21 day fast, but it’s never about a 21 day fast. He is after something deeper, something more, and sometimes we just miss it. We miss it because we think if we do something, it should yield some kind of great revelation. Well, it did yield some great revelation, it just wasn’t in the timing that I thought it should have, within that 21 days.

So, here’s the big news: I was snacking and scrolling because I was bored. This is interesting to me because when I was growing up as a kid, my mother would put us to work when we were bored. So, I am never bored because I always find something to do. I didn’t want my mom giving me work to do because I’d said the words, “I’m bored.” Oddly enough, I’ve also done this to my children. They have learned to keep busy. Also, my Grammy, my mother’s mother, would say to us kids, if one of us would say, “I’m bored” Her answer would be, “You could never be bored if you have a brain in your head.” She wasn’t unkind but I grew up with the impression that being bored was acquainted with more work that I didn’t choose and not being smart.

OK, so back to the reason why I’ve been bored. My husband has been working 6 days a week, which means there are only a few hours with him in the evening. He uses his brain most of the day trying to diagnose and figure out equipment. So, when he comes home he typically will download for about an hour how his day went, ask about mine, and then settle in for the night. His settling in is typically watching a fishing show or some other manly, mechanical, or otherwise ultra boring show to me. My son, also typically talks to me for a while after he comes home from school but then he plays guitar, does his chores, works on a model car, plays some video games, or watches the shows with his dad. I live with 2 boys that love real boy things and I am a girl who does not like any of them.

But being bored isn’t the end of the story nor is it the end of what God was doing. As I said, God often wants us to be obedient to what He’s asked us to do so that he can show us something deeper.

It’s like peeling an orange or an onion. Layer by layer you learn something else. He also has a way of using all the multiple things that we do and people that we spend time with to speak to us. I often wonder if we’re paying attention. How much are we missing?

So, my pastor, says to me that he wants me to read this book called At Your Best by Carey Nieuwhof. It’s a book about how we steward our energy during the day. There are green zones, yellow zones, and red zones. The book helps us figure out how to use those zones to our greatest advantage. Guess what I found out, now that I’m not snacking and scrolling in the evening hours, and now that I’ve figured out that I’m bored because of the situation I am in with these 2 boys who are excited about what they’re doing and I’m not? Through this book that my pastor said he would like me to read, I figure out that in between 6 and 8 pm, the exact times when I am the most bored, I am also in a green zone. This means that I am fully alert and in a space where my mind and heart should be using whatever creativity and passion that I have to create and develop things. My boys are in the yellow zone. They just don’t have the go go go vibe I do at that time. It’s chill time for them. I’ve been using this time for scrolling, snacking, and plugging my ears with earbuds, so that I don’t have to listen to fishing shows. Which amounts to wasting a huge amount of energy in my day that I could be utilizing.

Listen, God is always teaching us and helping us to grow. He wants to teach us to use what He is given us to the best of our potential, and for His glory! If we are not paying attention to what He is saying to us, we are missing everything! This is also why I love structured times of the year to focus on the Lord like fasting and prayer. These times, like a 21 day fast at the beginning of the year, or times like Lent, and Advent are times of the year where we can slow down and focus in to see what God is saying and see what He is doing.

If you’ve never joined in on any of these things, I encourage you to do it. I am about to start this Lent blog series on Monday. Will you join me?

Thanks for Listening,

Starla

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.

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