Recently, the lovely and talented Tiffany Crawford put forth a challenge to fast…a three-day fast. I was in.
I discovered the beauty of fasting after Chuck died…introduced to me by the book Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard Foster. Prior to this book, the ONLY reason I would ever fast was for medical reasons. After all, what regular person fasts? The concept was anitiquated…nay…barbaric. Fasting was for…well…folks like Jesus. Right? And Jesus, I am not.
And then there were the food issues…I was raised a type 1 diabetic. Needless to say, I had food issues…one of which was/is the irrational fear that I might perish if I was ever too far away from food. What if I got lost in the woods or on a mountain or a deserted island…with no food? It could happen. I’d be a goner. Anyhoo…issues. (Though my beloved grandmother is dead, I still feel the need to put in a disclaimer to calm her. Grandmother, before I fasted, I checked with the doctor. He rather thought it a brilliant way to check my pump settings…so long as the fast was not too long. There.)
So, once upon a time, the idea of fasting was strange and new. And this is what I discovered through fasting back in the day (BK = before kids):
- Food is a glorious gift that I often abuse. I use it to soothe a wounded heart and a cluttered mind rather than to nourish my body.
- Food is LOUD. It can, and often does, block my ability to be still and quiet.
- Fasting reminds me that God is the giver of life.
- Fasting reminds me that I am utterly dependent upon God.
- Fasting reminds me that I need, need, need God. Food – meh. God – a MUST.
- Fasting reminds me how dearly loved I am by the creator of life.
Well, since children have entered the picture, not only I have not fasted, I’ve moved far from the God I love. I have been longing for Him…missing Him. Prior to Tiffany’s challenge, I had thought about a weekly fast…making it a part of each week…a time to connect with the maker of my soul…the one I dismissed in the business of life. So, BOOM, this challenge seemed like a perfect time to reconnect and recommit to the maker of heaven and earth. And Tiffany’s words caused my heart to beat faster with the anticipation of spending time with my dear friend:
“We empty ourselves, waiting expectantly on Jesus to empty the tomb and resurrect life in us.
Fasting is a form of worship that allows us to truly focus on Jesus and only Jesus. We deny ourselves something simple and in return we get back the complexity of grace and mercy in our lives. We allow God to transform some part of our heart from death to life, so that we may rejoice and tell the world of his goodness”
Now, call me naive, but it never occurred to me that fasting with littles (i.e. multiple children under the age of 3) would be any different than fasting without them. It wasn’t until my sister, Shea, offhandedly said, “Oh! This will be the first time you have fasted with kids,” that I had even considered that this experience could be…ummm…different. But really, the kids wouldn’t factor in much, right? (Yeah, I know. Foolish mommy. Foolish, foolish mommy.)
Without further ado, this is how my fast went down:
- I realized that not eating frees up a lot of time in my parenting. Wow, if I didn’t need to eat, I could really get a lot done. Yep. Eating totally slows me down. (Don’t judge…you know we’re all on the look for a little help in the parenting department.)
- I did not miss food much….just wan’t very hungry. Not much happening spiritually…but Tiffany had warned beforehand, something along the lines of, “fasting without focusing on Jesus is just starving yourself.”
- When tiny hunger pangs hit, I turned my heart and mind to God. I thanked Him for this sweet time of leaning on Him…and told Him how I longed for Him more than I longed for food.
- Overall, the hunger came in snatches…chasing two kids all day does not leave much time to think of food…let alone Jesus. Sigh.
- Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty…I was HUNGRY. My body ached. My tummy hurt. My heart rejoiced with each pang…I drew close to Jesus…the one I had missed so much…the one I felt so distant from. In these tiny moments of pain, utter sweetness and joy.
- Again with the busy. We went hard all day. Again with the “catch me if you can” with Jesus. Still, my heart, mind, and body were MUCH more focused and thoughts of Him were much more frequent.
- Hands down, most beautiful day of my fast. At the end of it, I felt such a sweet reconnection with my dear friend. My physical hunger help quiet my mind and open my soul…to hear that still, small voice say, “Welcome home, love.”
- Okay, totally cut out early. Eh. Ya win some, ya lose some. I was not hungry…not like the day before. Perhaps my body had grown used to being empty? Anyhoo, I figured my time was done and ended my fast around noon.
What did I learn? Fasting with littles is like anything else with littles…messy and unpredictable. I had wanted to spend focused time praying and reading scripture during my fast. Ha. Since I refused to fast from sleep, this did not happen. I had no focused time to read from God’s word…and my prayers were quick and spotty. And I learned that for this season, that is okay. My worship must come in spurts, sprinkled throughout my day…between spills and diapers and play, play, play…or perhaps intertwined within these activities…within the glorious mess…worship.