For the last week I’ve been participating in a fast–you know, like Ghandi or Jesus. It’s part of an idea I read about in Jen Hatmaker’s new book, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against
Excess. The book is about releasing certain aspects of your life, and “giving them up to God.” Meaning giving up what’s important or “in the way” to make room for spiritual thought, growth, and to generally grow closer to Christ*.
*Disclaimer: As you know, I’m a Christian. If that disturbs or bothers you, go write your own blog. If you’re okay with it, then keep reading–regardless of your beliefs, you might get something out of this!
Anyway, back to the fast. I’ve been a Christian for years, but have never truly understood the power and effects of what fasting can provide us. I know you’re wondering what exactly “fasting” means in my case, so I’ll just jump into it:
Jen’s idea of fasting for one month came from a desire to let go of the things that were acting as idols: fixations, addictions, or habits in her life. She, like me, liked food–and decided to eat only 7 foods for an entire month. Her food items–and mine–were actually very healthy selections, and I’m hoping I’ll be able to benefit from a minimalistic, simplified diet for awhile.
If you’re wondering about the reasons I’ve chosen to do this, here they are in order:
To grow closer to God.
Rather than think about eating 40+ times a day (no joke), I now think about eating then God. It’s funny how I thought fasting and personal sacrifice was all about giving up what we’ve been blessed with because others don’t have the same blessings.
This turns out to be naive and shortsighted.
I’m fasting not because there are starving Ethiopians–that does nothing for the starving Ethiopians. I’m fasting because God wants me to grow closer to Him, so that I might be able to clearly see His vision for how I can help the world. If that means I’m praying instead of eating doughnuts, maybe He’ll put it on my heart to move to Ethiopia and do mission work there.
Do you see the difference?
It’s subtle, but drastic. Fasting–or any act of personal sacrifice–isn’t about giving something up just so you can feel another person’s pain. It’s so that I might “…take my eyes off the things of this world and focus on God.”
It’s been a struggle in humility, perseverance, and willpower, and it’s only been a week! But I’ve felt closer to God and even those around me–I can feel that God has great plans for my life and my family, and I can feel His presence even more.
To lose weight.
We shouldn’t fast to lose weight. That’s called a diet, and diets historically don’t work. BUT–it sure is a nice side-effect of fasting that the pounds keep falling off!
My goal, again, is to take care of the temple (my body) that God has given me:
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body,” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
It’s not weight loss as an exercise in vanity; it’s weight loss as a side effect of maintaining and improving what God has given. Again, a subtle difference, but an important one nonetheless.
To improve my outlook on life.
This aspect has been tricky. Instead of, “God, thank you for everything you’ve given me–the foods you’ve created for us; the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees…” it’s “God–I’m hungry. This is hard. Why am I doing this? Please tell me to stop…” more often than not.
But after I’ve complained and whined, I still thank Him for everything He’s given, and I feel full. Not full as in ate-too-much-pizza-full, but a fulness that can only come from the Holy Spirit. It’s refreshing, rejuvenating, and it actually helps take the physical hunger away.
Who woulda thought? Oh yeah, God.
What my fast looks like.
Alright, I know you’re all dying to know just what my fast looks like, so here you go:
It’s 30 days long–from March 6 to April 6 (my birthday!), and is all day, every day. No cheat days, no “off” days.
My food items are:
- Couscous (or Quinoa)
You’re giggling. I can hear it. “Wine?” you ask?
Mainly because I love to cook with wine, and I’ve never had serious cravings for wine. Wine won’t become a crutch for me, like Oreos or Nutter Butters if they were on the list.
Originally I had avocados on the list, and I was allowing myself to drink water, coffee, and wine, but I realized that avocados don’t really agree with me…
Finally, I’m allowing myself to use salt and pepper for cooking, and minced garlic for those especially dry chicken breast/spinach combos.
I’ll be posting each week for the next three weeks with how it’s going, my successes and failures, and what I’ve learned. So far, though, here are my thoughts:
- It’s easier AND harder than I thought. Getting through the day is nothing; just eat soup and an apple. It’s before bed, when the wifey starts popping Orville Redenbacher’s, that I start going nuts.
- I’m not feeling tired or less energized as much. It’s still hard to get out of bed sometimes, but that’s mainly due to my sheer laziness. I’m refreshed, awake, and pretty happy during the day.
- Food has become fuel, strictly. I still have cravings for steaks, potatoes, ice cream, etc., but when I do eat, I stop when I’m full–usually after way fewer bites than I thought possible! This side effect alone is very exciting to me, and I hope I continue it long after the fast is over.
- I’m definitely thinking about God more often. ’nuff said; this was the whole reason for the fast!
In conclusion, I’m pretty happy with the results thus far. It’s not super-intense, so there wasn’t too much pain getting started, but it has been a difficult sacrifice in some cases (like when the office bought everyone breakfast tacos and there was birthday cake too…), but it’s been worth it.
Have you ever fasted? What did it look like?
Leave a comment and let’s start a discussion!