This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday.
Every year for the last decade, I pray and consider carefully during the winter what I might do during Lent. Lent’s tricky for me. I love the church calendar and the seasons and I love setting it apart as a holy (or holier) time of the year, but I’m too aware of the temptation to use Lent as a diet plan or give something up but not really observe the season as a whole.
I don’t want to do that. I want to be intentional during Lent. When I give something up, I want it to serve a greater purpose and make me more mindful. In the past couple of years, I’ve given up coffee, given up sugar, and given up all beverages but water and sent money to the Blood:Water mission. Those were each meaningful in their own way.
This year, I’m giving up something I’m not sure I can live without in the hopes that I’ll learn that I can.
I’m giving up multi-tasking. Multi-tasking is something I think I’m really good at. I have a feeling the opposite is actually true.
Instances of multi-tasking:
- Eating while I watch TV or read
- Facebooking while I do…well, a lot of things
- Talking on the phone and walking
- Watching a show on Netflix and having about 75 other tabs open
- Writing while I listen to music
- Working out while I listen to music
- Thinking through the day ahead while I shower
- Drinking coffee while I do…again, a lot of things
- Checking my phone while I talk to someone
- Making copies while I create fliers while I listen to music while I check Tweetdeck while I clean up my desk
And what I have discovered as I go about my day watching for instances of multi-tasking in preparation for Lent is that the list is much bigger than that.
What could I accomplish if I only focus on one thing at a time? What if when I eating, I’m just eating? What will happen if I can only have one tab open on my computer? What if when I’m talking to you, I’m just talking to you?
Yes, this Lent will be a season of single-tasking in the hopes that I’ll become more focused and more productive and more attentive in my relationships and tasks.
But in considering all of this, I’ve decided that there will be necessary exceptions, and I’m a big believer in the spirit vs. the letter of the law:
- I’m obviously not going to stop thinking while I do things. Thinking will not be considered a “task” in this journey.
- I will avoid multi-tasking with music in most cases, but I have a hard time driving in a silent car. Maybe I’ll keep it off when I have a passenger who might prefer conversation. I will try working out without music and make a decision about that based on how it affects motivation and endurance.
- Because I say so, drinking coffee or water does not count as a task. I could justify that, but I’m not going to. Deal with it.
- If my family or my loved ones are participating in an event that requires multi-tasking, I will participate. Relationships always trump anything else during my Lenten journey.
I will be focusing on how I multi-task with my electronic devices, how I mindlessly eat while I do other things and how I have a hard time just letting my mind settle into one thing at a time. I’ll be seeking to glorify Jesus in deeper relationships and richer time studying and preparing for the ministry I’m called to do.
Pray for me. This is going to be tough.
I’m interested to know if you observe Lent and if so, how will you observe it?