The following is an excerpt from my book At Home in this Life and shares the story of the first time I gave up multitasking for Lent. something I am fasting from again this year. I have included this excerpt and a primer graphic on the chance that maybe this is a fast that the Holy Spirit is calling you to as well…
…The spring after I broke my foot I decided to give up multitasking for Lent. I was fresh off of the enlightenment of having discovered Jeremiah 29 and forging deeply through monastic writings. I was anxious to begin practicing as many spiritual disciplines as possible, eager to test my theory that there was a way to slow down without moving to a monastery. So I gave up multitasking. For the sake of the fast, I defined multitasking as doing more than one thing at a time by choice. Under these terms I could no longer watch Downton Abbey while combing through Pinterest on my laptop, while simultaneously checking Instagram and Twitter on my phone. I was not allowed to read a magazine while talking to Nathan. I tried my hardest not to check the e-mail on my phone while walking from the parking deck to my office at the school. Or while riding in the elevator. No phone calls while driving. No folding laundry while watching a movie. Instead, I had to do each independently. One. At. A. Time.
This practice was brutal. And completely freeing. And to some degree it broke me. Something in me that had been running at warp speed for two decades suddenly cracked and split wide open, all that go-go-gumption spilling out. The mechanism inside my mind that told me to do more, run faster, and try harder had frozen up, and no amount of cajoling would get it running again. The Monday after Easter I tried to return to my multitasking, fifty-plates-spinning-in-the-air habits, but I just couldn’t find the motivation to work at it any longer. I didn’t like the feeling of being rushed, frazzled, and split into a hundred different shards of myself. Racing against the clock no longer held any sort of attraction. And even if I wanted to return to life at warp speed, my brain no longer worked that way. Suddenly, I realized I could no longer text my sisters, listen to Nathan explain his plan for a garden, and catch up on my blog reading all at the same time without losing my place in at least one of those conversations. Some days I couldn’t even cook dinner and hold a conversation simultaneously. Whatever multitasking mojo I had before Lent was now gone. My brain had reformed itself into one whole piece, and it could no longer function at its old pace.
A longing for slowness and stillness had been ignited instead. I had tasted the smallest sample of a different way of being in the world, and I wanted more of the peace I had found during those six weeks.
You should read the book to find out how, but I will tell you I did learn how to access fill that longing with regular stillness and silence. But even a regular practitioner needs a reset every once in a while, which is why I am once again giving up Multitasking for Lent. If you would like to join me, here are is a primer:
Remember, you don’t have to do ALL of these things – but maybe pick one area or a few practices to commit to over Lent. You might just find some beauty and restoration waiting in the wildernesses.
Prayers for your journey-