Wednesday, April 6

Fasting follow-up

I received a comment this morning from my Canadian blogger friend that I wanted to share and answer:

Fasting can be such an undiscovered discipline in today's church. Sometimes, it seems, if you talk about it, you are perceived to be like a Pharisee or something..."I fast twice a week..." But if we don't talk about it, what do we become then?? I'd love to hear about the challenges and blessings of your week of fasting.

This really resonated with me. Fasting is really a confusing thing. It is talked about in the Bible, on multiple occasions and in both the old and new testament, but as a general rule it is so foreign to us in America--to me--that I feel really insecure on the topic. Insecure about if it's okay to talk about it (because there are verses in the Bible that would support that it's not). Insecure about how to do it (e.g. Is one meal a day (like I did this past week) actually legitimate?) Insecure about how often to do it. Insecure about for what purpose I should do it. You get the point. So, when it's hard to do anyway, and there are so many questions regarding it, it's easy just to not do it in the first place.

But that is so sad and unfortunate. You know, as I think about it right now, I wonder if our neglect of fasting is one of the reasons that most American Christians are so overwhelmingly disinterested in the poor. That is not to say that we don't think we care. Or, we don't feel guilty, sad, fill in the blank....when we take the time to think about it. It's just that our choices don't actually show that we care.

The above hypothesis about the link between fasting and the poor is because of how fasting a meal a day this week impacted me. Granted, I was fasting because of the call to fast from Ambassador Tony Hall here, so my heart and mind were clearly on the poor. However, I think it was much more than that. When I fasted this week one meal a day, I felt hungry. This is something that normally I try to avoid at all costs. When I feel hungry--usually within MINUTES--I am rushing to fill that hunger with some kind of food. And I can. I have food within my disposal at almost every second of every day....and night. So this hunger thing for more than a few minutes at a time is not normal. This week, when I started feeling hungry, I was not rushing to satiate that hunger. So, I had time to contemplate it. Contemplate the TENS OF THOUSANDS of people that DIE of hunger EVERY SINGLE DAY in other countries. And contemplate those children in this country that are hungry on any given day because there's no food in the house. I came face to face with the latter this summer when I was tutoring. It is real and it does happen more than you know. That alone has made me more connected this week. And more thoughtful.

I really want to learn more about the discipline of fasting and hear your experiences about it. I won't call you a Pharisee. I won't even think it. I'm just longing to become more, become better, than I am right now. Spending HOURS reading Kisses from Katie this week confirmed that once again. I have SO far to go, but I'm not throwing in the towel yet. In fact, I'm more resolved than ever to grow and become more real. I think fasting is one of the many pieces to this puzzle.


paraguayalyssa said...

Hey D. Thanks for this post. You're REALLY BRAVE! Today I bought a juicer with the anniversary money we got from our parents, and tonight I bought a bunch of produce in anticipation of its arrival:)

Fasting used to be a really significant part of my life and it hasn't been for a long, long time. I can tell. I can't describe it, but in my spirit I feel less peaceful and centered. I think these are 2 fruits of fasting. When I would fast, it seemed that I became more patient. Fasting taught me that discomfort is just discomfort and making it go away isn't always the most important thing in every situation.

For example, I'll often find that when I sit down to have devos, I first notice that my hands are dry and I absolutely cannot pray until I put lotion on them. So I go get the lotion and sit back down. Then my feet are cold and I need to go get socks. Then I'm thirsty and go crazy until I can get water. Then, then, then. When I fast, I'm not as bothered by those things, which I think are a reflection of a general state of peace. It translates into being at peace with others misunderstanding me, being bossed around by people who think I need bossing, not defending myself when I don't need to, resting in God's grace and love. I miss it...

KLT said...

Thank you for sharing. I've been fasting one meal a week for a long time, and I feel like I need that discipline (although I don't always get at the heart of it very well for a variety of reasons, including some described by you and the previous commenter). But I often feel like talking about it (including the hows, the struggles, the blessings, etc.) is taboo...unlike talking about Bible reading, acts of service, or Scripture memory.
I really appreciated your candor. I hope that we'll both be able to have more conversations with this among our Christian friends.