lenten penance
In early February, when my family and I were discussing our Lenten plans, my husband suggested I give up my computer. “You’re addicted to that thing,” he said.

“Yeah, Mom,” my son chimed in, “You’re always sitting at the computer!”

It was true. I spent a lot of time with my laptop. I kept it open on the counter at all times beside my stove in order to continuously be working on writing projects, answering emails, updating my calendar, paying bills and keeping life together in general. Since I run our city’s Catholic Women’s Conference, which takes place during Lent, I told my husband there was no possible way I could live without my laptop. There were too many details to coordinate and even after the conference I would have a billion things to work on for follow up! “Command Central” (aka my kitchen counter) could not be shut down.

God, of course, had a different plan. I made it through the conference, which took place just 10 days into Lent, and after recuperating, managed to get a few follow up emails sent out. As I was cleaning the kitchen only a few days after the conference, however, my elbow bumped my glass of freshly poured sparkling water, sending a splash across the laptop’s keyboard.

In a panic, I unplugged the computer, dabbed it with a towel and went to shut it off. Sadly, it was too late. Something had already shorted and it was dead, dead, dead. I quickly googled how to handle water damage on a computer and rigged up a crate and fan to blow on the machine which I propped upside down as seen in the picture above. I waited 96 hours to see if it would boot back up, only to find that, although it did turn on, it was totally destroyed. The battery wouldn’t hold a charge, emails kept re-indexing and it was functioning painfully slowly.

My husband decided it was time for a new computer configuration in our house and ordered a desktop to manage all our family finances, photos and backups. Meanwhile, we would get the laptop fixed for me to use for writing projects. The repair would take some time, however, so I decided to do what my husband had suggested and go on as long as I could without a laptop this lent. I was able to check my emails on my phone and use a simple tablet for writing projects (like this blog post). It was certainly an inconvenience, especially since managing email on a phone is more difficult, but so far I’ve learned these valuable lessons:

  • I need to more frequently let go, rely on others, and ask for help. I learned that I don’t have to answer every email that comes my way, especially when it concerns ministry work and multiple people are copied in. Most of the time, if I waited long enough, someone else would answer the question anyway. I’m also a bit of a control freak, toting the “if you want it done right, then do it yourself” mindset, but found that plenty of other people were capable of helping me with the things I once thought only I could accomplish.
  • I had been spending far more time on my laptop than I realized. I’m the type of person who can’t stand the sight of those little red circles alerting me of email, text or Facebook notifications. With no constant access to these distractions, I was able to focus more on my family. I didn’t have to completely eliminate my Internet and social media activity but limiting it was certainly a good thing for me.
  • When you think you can’t live without something, think again…. God may have a different idea!

Has your Lent gone differently than you planned? Has God chosen something else for you to focus on?