30 Days In Egypt: A Review Of Exodus 90
At first it seemed like the new Catholic hipster thing to do.
As far as I could tell every notable Catholic speaker, author, and podcaster was endorsing this program. Maybe it was just good marketing, but it was working. After the 50th Facebook and Instagram ad I had to find out what this program was all about. I looked through their site, read about the program, assessed the likelihood of me quitting half way through, and finally decided to get a few buddies to join me. I was set for January 21 for Exodus 90.
For those of you that don’t not know, Exodus 90 is a program developed by Those Catholic Men to help men experience freedom from worldly addictions and a revitalized spiritual life by adhering to their three pillars for 90 days. The three pillars of the program are Prayer, Aestheticism, and Fraternity.
Each pillar is valuable, but the shock value for potential participants comes when you look at Aestheticism’s list of things you need to abstain from (or “give up”) for the 90 days.
Here’s the complete list of Asetheical Pratices. This list will make even the most devout millennial cringe. The idea of giving up netflix, desserts, and warm showers sounds like an absurd undertaking, especially when there’s nothing really forcing you to do it.
It’s not really optimal for weight loss and Summer’s still a long ways off. I could easily keep enjoying my gluten-free powedered pastries while still wearing baggy sweatshirts for another few months!
But the program insists that its good for your soul to separate from the comfortable things the world has to offer. I agreed with them in principle since I limit my kids’ “Screen Time.” In practice on the other hand, I knew I spent way too much time on YouTube.
Quiet honestly, the idea of giving up screen time (and other comforts) made me uneasy, and that’s why I wanted to take this on. Maybe I had grown too comfortable and wasn’t putting myself in an optimal environment for my own spiritual growth.
30 days later, and I come to find that I was right.
Here are three things I’ve learned about myself 30 days since starting my Exodus.
1) I Was Addicted
If you had told me I was addicted to my phone and social media 30 days ago, I was have denied it. Yet, the proof is in the scrolling.
The first day of Exodus 90 I continuously opened the Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube apps on mental-autopilot. It took about 10 unconscious logins before I realized I needed to delete the apps if I was going to stick to the plan.
It quickly became obvious that “Pull out your phone” had become a part of my internal programming for most situations. Whenever there was downtime, I pulled out my phone and start scrolling.
It took deleting the apps and a couple of days for the reflex to go away. Still, the real punch to the gut came from my iPhone itself. At the end of my first week doing Exodus 90. Siri proudly reported that my total usage for the week had decreased by 49%!
I’m a little embarrassed I was using my phone that much in the first place, but I’m grateful the Exodus 90 tore off the band-aid.
2) My Mind Was Cluttered
Less phone, TV, and internet means I have more time, and it also means I have more mental space.
I started Exodus 90 the day after my wife gave birth to our 4th child, Thomas. That first week, I was taking care of a new baby and simultaneously managing the myriad of tempers and personalities from our other three. Yet, it was one of the least stressful weeks I have had in a long time.
No screens meant I was only worried about the world around me. I wasn’t as wound as I usually was, and it wasn’t from caffeine deprivation. I learned to change diapers with one hand just so I could keep sipping on my cup of coffee.
My mind was clear enough to read, to listen to audiobooks, and to write! I didn’t know, or care, what other people were doing, what current events were taking place, or what the latest viral videos or memes were. My focus was only on my family.
3) Cold Showers Are The Worst/Best Part
I have spent more time psyching myself up for a cold shower, than I have actually spent showering.
On the surface the cold showers seem like a pointless act of self mortification, especially when you’re in the Northeast and it’s 5 degrees outside. But it’s my favorite part of Exodus 90 for this reason:
Every morning I’m immediately humbled and reminded of how weak I am.
At the center of my hesitancy for starting Exodus 90 in the first place was the fear that this was going to go as well as my past 90 days ventures: P90X, Insanity, Hip-Hop abs (just kidding).
I’ve tried other things in an attempt to make myself better, and quit all of them by day 3. And as I read the list of Aestehtical practices, I felt like I was setting myself up to fail. My will power doesn’t have a good track record.
That’s precisely why Exodus 90 is different than other self-help and self-improvement programs. That’s because it’s not a self-help program!
Exodus 90 is not about you helping yourself, it’s about God helping you. The daily reflections and prayer time are meant to remind you that it’s not about your ability, it’s about God’s ability. The list of Aethetical practices are opportunities for you to humble yourself enough to allow God in, because you can’t do it alone.
If you see the list as a challenge of your will then you’re doing it wrong.
Every man will struggle with different aspects of Exodus 90, but all men will struggle. The struggle isn’t supposed to be a test of grit, but a reminder of how desperately we need God’s grace to become the men we desire to be.
If you’re interested in taking on a challenge that will humble you and change you, take a look at this program and consider starting this Lent!
I’ll give another update after 60 days on this Exodus, but for now I’m grateful to be reminded how desperately I need God with every cold shower.
Until next time - Esto Vir!
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