This blog post first appeared over at www.allisonvesterfelt.com - you can read more about Allison there!
I was never a huge fan of the discipline of fasting.
I battled an eating disorder for most of high school and college, so the idea of spiritualizing my self-punishment just never seemed that appealing to me. Or fair for that matter.
Even when the struggle with food started to subside, and I was a part of a community where the discipline of fasting was taught and practiced in a healthy way, I took the advice of the Natropathic doctor I was seeing at the time and focused on allowing myself to eat and enjoy food.
But more recently, as I’ve felt able, I’ve begun to practice fasting and praying —
Not giving up all food all the time, but certain foods for a certain amount of time. It’s not a discipline I would recommend to everyone, at every stage of life, but I’m beginning to see the value of it in my life.
Going without is a sacrifice I make, not as deprivation, but as a reminder of my desperation.
We’re so good at managing our desperation. We don’t spend much time wanting something before we go out and get it. When we want something like a new outfit, or a car, or good food, we go buy it. If we can’t afford it, we put it on a credit card.
When we want something we can’t have, like a husband, or a baby, or a new job or different circumstances, we pretend like we don’t want it.
Very rarely do I allow myself to feel the whole weight of it, the whole pain of living without, of longing.
And the problem with pretending like we aren’t desperate when we are is we lose a little piece of ourselves, of our humanity. At least I do.
I lose a small piece of myself when I pretend like I don’t want things I want.
And I guess that’s what fasting does for me. It reminds me that it’s okay to want things, to be hungry. That I won’t die. It shows me how frail I am, how much I need resources and people and things outside of myself to survive and thrive.
And fasting is different than starving myself.
Starving myself, for me, was always about gaining control. I think fasting is more about losing it. In a life that’s full of excess, fasting is about choosing to let go of my privilege, my access —
That’s what fasting is for me.
I’m not recommending everyone fast. It’s absolutely unhealthy for certain people in certain seasons of life. I guess what I’m suggesting is that we stop pretending we don’t want things we actually want. I’m suggesting we quit managing our desperation, and instead admit it, embrace it —
Bring it to the feet of a God who cares.
Are you desperate for anything? What do you want (or love) that you can’t have? To reply, click HERE.