What I Learned On My Lenten Vacation From Facebook

I gave up Facebook for Lent.

You might have heard about it.

God knows, I have.

When I sat in the church I was trying on for size, the thought came to me. Perhaps I was dozing. Perhaps I was in the MOMENT. Perhaps I was right along with the Lady Pastor. Perhaps I was gassy. Whatever the case, the words, “FACEBOOK” were front and center in my brain as I was thinking about the upcoming Lenten season and how I would let it play into my life.

Let me give you a little history, lest you think me a zealot, or a Beater, or (Godblessyou) a harlot.

I was not raised to observe Lent.

From the time I can remember, I was a functioning member of the First Baptist Church of El Reno, Oklahoma. 70306.

It was a good place. I was at home and comfortable there. I made life decisions and solidified them within the hands of my PaPa at that church. I was and am still, ok with that basis for my moral compass. I have many blessed memories that are based solely on that church as a structure, and as a family.There are many many more that, if I let it, could outweigh the positive. I choose, this day, not to do that.

But the bottom line was that we sat through Big Church, wondering what it would be like to paint our nails like Ariel did in Footloose. I realize that I read my first Joan Collins book at Tabernacle in Falls Creek…but that’s a whole nuther post. We sat through Big Church. We listened vaguely to the words that were, on any given Sunday, etched into the powder blue carpet with fire and brimstone. And because we only knew what one of those things were, (dude. I had to google brimstone.) we added the phrase You’re Tarnished and I’m Not to the tone of the day. We passed the plate, we saw our parents put in their tithe check, we sang a few verses of “Just As I Am” and then we bolted.

No judgement on the curriculem of the flavor of Jesus that I was raised in…it just was what it was.

Fast forward through a marriage to a Preacher’s Kid. One who spoke in tongues. A flavor of Jesus that was, frankly, more  “Donny -I’m a little bit rock and roll-Osmond” to my more familiar “Marie-I’m a little bit country and have better hair-Osmond.” I got comfortable there, and as I am want to do from time to time…I fit myself into that mold.

Fast forward to a fabulous mind blowing stint at college where I sat in front of my mentor, crying, saying…”but this isn’t what my grandpa taught me.”

Fast forward through the years, though the travels, through unimaginable losses and extraordinary gains. Thorough thoughts once absolutely forsaken, and conversations that made me question everything. Into  a space of acceptance and tolerance and for lack of a better word…comfortable squishy-ness.

It was a place that I had carved out for myself. Through all of the books and the talks and the words and the talk shows and the movies and the music and the nights that started at a sunset and ended at a sunrise…I found my solid ground. I found my operating system. I figured out that I really liked tradition…and tolerance. I was as equally at home with some crushed velvet cushions  as I was with hand raising, lighting candles, and a little bass guitar.

Lent falls into that Yahtzee in some way.

So this year, I gave up Facebook.

What was amazing to me, one who is, to this day, unapologetic about my love for the medium, was how my brain was so programed for social networking. Now, look…ever since I was about 4 years old, all I ever wanted was a big house to hold everyone I loved in it. I cry at goodbyes. I hate being parted from those pieces of my heart that are my family and friends…one in the same really. So in THIS world? On THIS plane of reality? EVERYONE I love lives in my computer…lives in my phone…at their ready…merely waiting for the tap of my fingertips to call them into service.

God Bless Facebook.

I found old friends. I made new old friends. I made old new friends. I got clients. I got services…taxes and plumbing and shingles, OH MY! It was a party with constant comments and it fed me.

It FED me.

And when it was gone…I was hungry. And more than that…I was left alone. It felt like the world was having a party…and I was not invited. Even though it was my choice to not attend. The loneliness was palpable. My routine had huge gaping holes in it…mornings were left without a purpose…all of my “happy birthdays” drying up. Going to waste. All of my witty quips, my status updates hanging in the air, unused and just lining the walls…waiting for someone to ask them to dance.

It became very sad, very quickly, at how much I depended on this medium…to qualify my life and the way I was living it.

And here’s the thing. My life did not and does not suck. I’m not saying that at all. I stand by my love for the social networking. Anyone who is blessed enough to have friends all over the world NEEDS this technology. I’m just saying that, for me…it was a substitute for reality. For quality. For authentic living.

Once my mind got calm, once the chatter and the postings and the updates went their own seperate ways…I started to see that I was living in the moment. I was actually enjoying this meal instead of taking pictures and posting it for everyone to see. I was leaving my phone in the car, in my purse, turned to silent for minutes, even hours at a time.

WHAT THE HELL???

yeah. I know.

I reached some pretty decent life decisions during this time of reflection. These past forty days, I have given myself permission to figure some shit out. I’ve given myself permission to fall apart and to be cranky and to understand that sometimes it’s okay to be bitchy about the state of the kitchen and the one winged flying birds that seek solace from the murdering cats in there. I’m okay with the dishwasher being run when only half full. I’m okay with the fact that I have no idea how to deal with all of the new tv’s/wires that are in my home. And I’m okay with the fact that my goals in life…don’t necessarily match up with those that are around me. Dishes can stack, laundry can spoil, stacks of paper can gather…all of that just doesn’t mean life or death to me. But the fact that my mind is clear enough to reach those decisions?

That’s pretty ding danged awesome.

So.

I applied to grad school.

I disconnected with suplurfous “friends”

I decided what was true and what was necessary for authentic living.

I ate easy mac. Velveeta style.

I had a date with a man.

I had a second date with a man who turns out was married….and paid for our date with gift cards.

I read many books. Lamb. American On Purpose. The Celestine Prophecy.

I paid off some debts.

and I got used to my own thoughts…and for the first time in a long time…I kind of felt that those thoughts…were funny. and quirky. and sometimes profound. . . maybe even post-worthy.

I didn’t ever miss Facebook per se… I didn’t miss getting “poked” or having a cyber “sex on the beach” given by someone who was a hateful skank to me in junior high. I didn’t miss passive aggressive status updates, begging me to comment about clearly fucked up relationships or disasterous shoe purchases. I don’t miss getting my feelings hurt by being defriended. or being HATED in someone elses status update. I don’t miss feeling anger at the idiots that are trashing Prince William and his lack of hair and how he used to be “the cute one.”

I missed my friends. My tribe of crazy, cranky, joyful, encouraging, raunchy, bawdy, sweet friends.

There is a passage in LAMB, by Christopher Moore, that I’d like to share. (I just finished the book yesterday…and by crying myself silly at the end, I passed a friendship test. THANK GOD! )

The scene is between Joshua (the Jesus character) and his best friend Biff (the narrator) who are working out an early draft of the Sermon on the Mount. Joshua is advocating for “Blessed are the dumbfucks” (though they seem only to be getting fruit baskets), and Biff is calling to edit out the dumbfucks .

“How many is that?”
“Seven.”
“Not enough. We need one more. How about the dumbfucks?”
“No, Josh, not the dumbfucks. You’ve done enough for the dumbfucks. Nathaniel, Thomas –”
“Blessed are the dumbfucks for they, uh — I don’t know–they shall never be disappointed.”
“No, I’m drawing the line at dumbfucks. Come on, Josh, why can’t we have any powerful guys on our team? Why do we have to have the meek, and the poor, the oppressed, and the pissed on? Why can’t we, for once, have blessed are the big powerful rich guys with swords?”
“Because they don’t need us.”
“Okay, but no ‘Blessed are the dumbfucks.’”
“Who, then?”
“Sluts?”
“No.”
“How about the wankers? I can think of five or six disciples who would be really blessed.”
“No wankers. I’ve got it. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.”
“Okay, better. What are you going to give them?”
“A fruit basket.”
“You can’t give the meek the whole earth and these guys a fruit basket.”
“Give them the kingdom of heaven.”
“The poor in spirit got that.”
“Everybody gets some.”
“Okay, then, “share the Kingdom of Heaven.”” I wrote it down.
“We could give the fruit basket to the dumbfucks.”
“NO DUMBFUCKS!”
“Sorry, I just feel for them.”
“You feel for everyone, Josh. It’s your job.”
“Oh yeah. I forgot.”

 

I’m glad to have my brain cleared of the chatter.

I’m glad to have learned to practice some peace.

I’m glad to get back to all of my friends, what that live right here in my compter.

Because even we dumbfucks need support every now and again.

And maybe…just maybe…

a fruit basket.

 

 

 

14 thoughts on “What I Learned On My Lenten Vacation From Facebook

  1. Chitta Vritti. That’s what yogi’s call the chatter of the mind. We always know how to find you, even if you’re not on Facebook. You are brilliantly awesomely beautiful.

    I was spared Falls Creek (thank the Lord, Amen).

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      1. I loved Falls Creek, too. Some of the best times of my life. I’ve no idea what posessed me to a) HAVE a Jackie Collins book with me and b) read it during church.
        *facepalm*

        Like

  2. Misti Kae,

    What a thoughtful, beautiful piece of writing. I chuckled. Didn’t cry, but got a wee bit verklempt a couple of times. I thought about my own (continuing) struggle to discover truth and meaning in such a screwed up world, marveling at how closely our paths have wound around a similar trajectory, only years apart. I have appropriated your characterization of your current “squishy” spiritual state. I resonated about how much I like Facebook and the social media . . . especially because it has allowed me to reconnect with so many of you “little freaks” from my teaching days at El Reno High School. And I thought about how fond I am of you and always have been. I’m glad you’re back. Guyser

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  3. How beautiful. Your thoughtfulness makes my head feel like it’s literally opening up. I missed you on Facebook, but as I said earlier, I enjoyed the challenge of making sure I was connecting with you in other ways. I appreciated the reminder to do so with others as well. Hope to see your face soon. xoxo

    Like

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