Every year in February, I start thinking about "what I will give up for Lent." It's almost like a school assignment - a book report for which I need to choose a book, an essay for which I need a subject. If I am truly seeking to give something up in the spirit of a fast, this is hardly the attitude to take. So I have decided this year to do something different. Rather than give something up, I'm going to do something extra. I know, that's not exactly a Lenten sacrifice, but personally I think it is still in the proper spirit because it will cause me to be more mindful of my actions and affect positive change.
My intention (and I realize to some this may sound silly) is to give up electronic documentation for the next 40 days in exchange for something more permanent. Hear me out - when was the last time you updated your Facebook status? Or when did you last make an album of pictures on Facebook or Picasa? Ok, now when did you last write in your baby book? Or journal? When was the last time you printed out pictures to make a real photo album or scrapbook?
Many of my friends are giving up Facebook for Lent, and I think that is an admirable goal. However, I enjoy keeping up with my friends socially, and I also use social media for work. I think you can still use social media as a means to socialize, so long as it doesn't become your sole means of communication and interaction. You just can't beat a good phone conversation, and a hand-written note, although almost obsolete these days, is such a powerful message of friendship and love. I have a big box in my closet of notes and greeting cards from family and friends, and I really enjoy looking through it from time to time. It makes me feel more connected to others in my life story, and reminds me of those I with whom I could stand to re-establish communication.
Everyday, I choose to document my life on the internet, and lately I have felt convicted of how fleeting that is. A few weeks ago, my mom sent Grant the most precious gift. A spiral bound book of thoughts she had typed out for him, emails between she and I that she printed out, and pictures. Yes, I know it is good to avoid having tons of things on paper, and we need to conserve resources. But that's not what I'm talking about. What would you rather give to your child when you are 60 and he is 35? A journal with little stories, even one line "status updates," and photographs, or a flash drive? My son LOVES to sit down and look through photo albums with me, and I'm not talking about the ones you click through. We are told by the experts to avoid screen time for children, so shouldn't we be preserving their life in a more tangible way, too? If the only place I journal or display pictures is on Facebook, what will I have left to show one day? What kind of legacy will that leave?
So here is my plan - for the next 40 days, when I get inspired to share a story, observation, or funny thing my son said, I'm going to write it down. Maybe in Grant's baby book, or maybe in my journal I have written in exactly one time that has been living in my bedside table drawer for four years. I think it's time to dust it off and buy a nice pen.
How do you document your child's life? Are you giving up something for Lent, or doing something else to affect positive change in your life? What kind of legacy do you want to leave for your children?
Blessings and love,