90 days – no social media, no TV, no movies – no snacking. Hearing that for the first time, you might wonder why in the world someone would put themselves through it. It’s called Exodus or Fiat 90, defined as an intense spiritual time of growth before Easter. Exodus 90 is for men and Fiat 90 for women. The guidelines for each are slightly different, but focus on the same goal. Many students are participating in this practice, including junior Human Development and Family Science major Carly Smith and sophomore Accounting major Jacob Bednar.
These two retreats are designed to challenge a person physically, mentally, and spiritually for 90 days. The retreat can be done anytime during the year, but many students chose to start on January 21, 90 days before Easter. The basic idea for both Fiat and Exodus 90 is to clear your life from distractions – something all students could benefit from. Participants dedicate themselves to 20-60 minutes of prayer each day, self-mastery practices (such as cold showers, regular exercise, at least 7 hours of sleep, abstaining from sweets, snacks, TV, movies, social media, and nonessential material purchases), and meeting with a group once a week.
Smith said she never felt more alive than when she’s participated in Fiat 90.
“I originally said yes to Fiat because there were so many women who wanted to do it,” Smith said. “Social media is not good for my life. There are so many more opportunities that I have taken part in due to my lack of time wasting on my phone.”
“Social media is not good for my life.”
A lot of things Smith didn’t know about herself have been revealed through this retreat, such as how important regular exercise is for self-care and how social media can be extremely harmful to one’s mental health.
Bednar embarked on Exodus 90 because his friends convinced him to do it. The most challenging part of the retreat for him was taking cold showers daily. Like Smith, he noticed how much more time he had because he wasn’t on his phone.
“I haven’t been so attached to my phone,” Bednar said. “It’s allowed me to be more present with those around me.
If you think Exodus or Fiat 90 might be for you, be cautious: these retreats are not for the faint of heart.
“Have a solid group of committed people do it with you to hold you accountable,” Smith said. “Be okay with failure! I can’t name one woman who has gone this far without failing at least once. You won’t be perfect, but it gives you room to ask the Lord for His grace.”
“Be okay with failure!”
Although the parameters of both Exodus and Fiat 90 seem daunting, the benefits are worth it. Our lives sometimes feel like they are filled to the brim with things going on, so eliminating distractions can allow for an increase in peace.
“Overall, these 90 days (thus far) have taught me that life has so much more to offer than the worldly pleasures we engage in every day,” Smith said. “We are called to live fully alive and to see, know, and love those we encounter.”