47 Days of Monk Mode - My Lent Journey


For anyone who’s not familiar, Lent season starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter (Feb 17-April 4 this year). Depending on the denomination, the dates may vary but that’s what I went with. Anyway, Feb 17th was the day I started my Lenten journey. It was only a few days prior, that I thought about what I wanted to give up or how I wanted to observe lent this year to really make it meaningful and impactful for me with time in prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. In the past, I had never truly given myself a deep commitment to this season. I wasn’t truly devoted to my faith. I did it to challenge myself sometimes (gave up meat, gave up chocolate, gave up fried food and other worldly things we find ourselves addicted to) - Which, in reality, looks like I used this time to gain some discipline on my diet, instead of really focusing on following the life of Jesus, my relationship with God, and how to use the season of lent to transform my spirit. Last year I committed to prayer everyday as my lent promise. While I am happy with how that went, it didn’t make a deep enough impact for the habit of daily prayer to stick, and I found myself in some of the same behavioural patterns that ultimately served no purpose. This year, my lent promise monk mode was to stay off social media, read the Bible daily, write in my prayer journal and practice celibacy. I wanted to strengthen my mind + spirit by resisting worldly temptations, overcoming fear/doubt, letting go of shame and building my thoughts, words and actions to be Christ centred. The main purpose for all of these promises was to remove everyday distractions and pleasures so that I can focus wholly, on hearing God’s word throughout lent.


So what changed for me this time around? How did I stick to my promises and resist temptation? I had a daily checklist. 4 things listed (among 10) were habits that I wanted to implement during this time and hold myself accountable to action them by visually seeing if I’m completing what I say I’m going to do.


The 4 lent habits on my daily checklist were:

1) AM Prayer

2) Read Bible

3) Journal

4) PM Prayer

To make sure I was being useful in my prayer time and not being completely repetitive, I used a prayer book. I created this prayer book for myself so I can write and observe. It was structured so that every day I’d wake up, I say my opening prayer for the new day, list 3 things I am grateful for, 3 areas where I seek guidance and pray for 3 specific people who are on my mind. This became a routine I did every morning. Writing became very helpful because it forced me to be specific. Why am I grateful for xyz? What areas of my life do I greatly need some direction? Who do I know that’s celebrating or suffering, that can use a prayer? These questions allowed me to deeply reflect each time I wrote in my prayer book and also allowed me to look back at past prayers and see that they’ve been answered! I cannot recommend it enough. In addition to my prayer book, I also wrote in my journal each night to express what went well and what went wrong. Sometimes I documented dreams, sometimes I went on a tangent of frustration. Sometimes I even felt too lazy to write, but I wanted to check it off my list, so I made sure to get it done.


The most difficult part of this journey was probably staying off social media. Let's be honest, we're all a little addicted. Information comes in through those platforms at a high speed, and we consume it daily. Picking up my phone and opening Twitter or Instagram became habits and autonomous. Scary! I had muscle memory to open the app on my phone without even looking! I felt like I was missing something for the first few days. I felt like I had no idea what was going on in the world. I deleted the apps to make it easier for me to commit. But damn, did I think about just opening it. But as the days went by and I filled that time up with creative work, prayer, journalling, exercise, bible study and making this website, I stopped thinking about it and my productivity improved a lot. Now that I've returned, I still feel like I don't have much interest anymore in opening Instagram. But I can't lie, I've been on Twitter a lot the week I returned. I almost felt like I had some catching up to do on all the things I've missed. In the grand scheme of it, I know I don't need to be constantly reading from there. But sometimes a good thread just pulls you in. My lesson here is to set some hard boundaries so I don't relapse and find myself idly scrolling. I will probably change my approach to social media as intermittent fasting style. Fasting from the phone is crucial.


Now let's get down to my Bible study. I've had the same bible on my bedside since I was a teenager. I remember buying it for myself, after a Christian youth retreat. That was about 15 years ago. I opened it up and started on Genesis. Never made it to Exodus because it got too wordy for my 15 year old brain. Since then, I had only opened it up to read specific scriptures and versus that I listened to in church. I gave up on reading it like a book and used it more as an encyclopedia (which is still useful). The Bible can be daunting to open because there are so many parts to it. So, while I knew many different parts, I never read the stories as a whole. When I decided to open it back up for lent, I honestly didn't even know where to start. I thought I'd just start at The New Testament since I was doing this journey to follow the life of Jesus. I'm so glad that this practice of daily bible readings gave me the confidence to continue reading it and understanding the word of God. I clung to some verses that helped me overcome negative pillars and gave me something to deeply think about, while remaining focused on my lent promises.


RESISTING TEMPTATION


Matthew 26:41

Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.


1 Corinthians 10:13

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.


This verse spoke to me in so many ways. The body is weak, we crave and we lust. Feeding the body only what it craves leads to an undisciplined life. Mainly being in diet, exercise, sex, and social media. This was a great verse to turn to during my extended fasting periods. I completed 3 36-40hr fasts spread in between the season. It was also something I had to repeat to myself during the times that I was tempted to break celibacy or hop onto Instagram or Twitter because my attention span wasn't sharp. I learned that when my spirit is disciplined, the mind and the body are sure to follow. We are one unit. My mission is to align the 3 with discipline. I regularly prayed for the strength and patience to overcome these temptations. I did slip up a couple times, but nothing that broke my will to continue. My spirit was lead to victory!

OVERCOMING FEAR + DOUBT


Romans 8:31

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?


Romans 12:21

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.


The social and political climate have been extra hot for a year now. So many changes happening fast. We are being lead and governed by people who have no moral compass. It's easy to be incredibly fearful when there's a lot happening out of your control. I've gone for walks and have people cross to the other side of the street because I'm walking outside maskless. The absurdity ensues! Fear is the name of the game right now and it can be overcome with God's grace and guidance. I am learning to be fearless with God. I've had many moments of doubt in pursuing my own independent creative work, rather than getting a secure job. But to this I know, if God is for me, who can be against me? Every time I've had a seed of fear and doubt, these verses have been a reminder. Have faith in the plan and purpose that God has instilled in you. Don't cave to societal pressure. Stand strong in your convictions. God's governing reigns above all other laws. This I know, and this I am reminded!


LETTING GO OF SHAME


1 Corinthians 2:11

For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.


1 Corinthians 13:13

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.


I have had my moments of shame in the past through dishonour and mistakes. Sometimes we cling to our shame more than we'd like to admit. It's a nasty memory that we bury deep for fear of anyone uncovering it. The thing I have felt the most shame for is not pursuing my full potential in life. In career, in health/physique, in relationships. I know what I'm capable of and I haven't fully pursued going past my own limitations. This is something that's weighed on me. Particularly because I am approaching an age that I am now thinking of building a family. Maybe I'm a wee late in the game, but I'm more confident now in what I have to offer and my potential. I have moments of shame questioning why I wasted time in non-committed foolery instead of focusing on building relationships with men that I saw potential in. Anyway, time has passed and I can move forward knowing that I am not a slave to my shame. It has come and gone and God has a plan for me. This, I am certain.

CHRIST CENTRED THOUGHTS, WORDS + ACTIONS


Romans 2

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgement on someone else, for whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgement do the same things.


1 Corinthians 15:58

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.


It's easy to be a hateful cynic these days. What's not easy is extending grace at the face of ridicule, humility and shame. Everything that feels right, is somehow deemed wrong. We're living in a time of backwards law. But still, when I think about all the turmoil, I try to remind myself that these people know not what they do. Many are asleep and being mislead. Many have not even come to know God, yet rebuke Him and His following. While it hurts to be shamed, we cannot fight evil with hate. Love conquers all (cliche, I know) but it's true. I am trying to focus on love and understanding as a centre of my thoughts, words, and actions. Jesus extended grace to the people who crucified him. Why can't I do the same? I have become more conscious of my thoughts during this time. The moments I judge or feel anger, I try to come back to these 2 verses that humble me. Sometimes it's even harder to forgive, but to what service are we doing to ourselves when we don't? That's another thing undigested. Eventually it builds. Let go, and let God. Centre your thoughts, words and actions around Christ.

My final thoughts:

Although lent season has come to an end, I intend to keep up with my practices and habits of AM/PM prayer and daily journalling. I may even implement going monk mode on a more frequent basis. Sometimes you need to hit reset. Everyday our minds, spirits + bodies are bombarded with negative energies that constantly drain our truest self. The self that God created. We lose sight of purpose, meaning and intention. These energies have deeply impacted our society and the way we behave amongst one another. Hate is glorified and love is seen as being weak. We have strayed farther and farther from the image of God for the attention of man and worldly possessions/desires. Go back to the root. Be in solitude. Cancel the noise. Find freedom and peace by spending more time with God. He's been sending you messages and you keep leaving Him on read. I encourage you to reply.


He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God. John 8:47


~Abundance + blessings to you~

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