A FAST Improvement
Updated: May 2
Have you ever fasted? As in, have you ever denied yourself something you enjoy for a period of time with the intention of improving your life in some way?
Self-denial has definitely fallen out of fashion these days. Many (but not all) of us have the world at our fingertips via our personal electronic devices. Anything we want to watch, play, learn about, order or eat is available through just a few taps while we recline on the couch.
And it is so easy, when faced with everything from a challenge to the mundane, to not deal with said challenge and instead turn to the comfort of your phone or a snack. And, because that is way more fun than doing anything that is unpleasant or requires effort, we do it again and again.
Who's with me on this? I know I am not the only one!
Lately I’ve felt the pleasures of life pulling me further away from myself, my health and my life purpose. This was only exacerbated by extravagances of the holidays. True confession: I LOVE Christmas cookies!
So when my pastor announced an opportunity to join a collective “Daniel Fast” with fellow church members, I was on board immediately.
What is the Daniel Fast all about? Well, for starters, it is NOT about starving yourself, losing weight or trying to make yourself look good. The Daniel Fast IS about taking the focus off yourself and drawing closer to God. It's about increasing self-discipline and growing spiritually through self-sacrifice. It's about denying yourself the things that serve to distract you so that you can grow more into the life and purpose for which you were created.
The Daniel Fast isn't a pure fast in that you are able to eat. However, foods for this fast are limited to whole grains, fruit, vegetables, beans/legumes, nuts/seeds and healthy oils. You know, the healthy stuff! Unhealthy, highly processed and “junk” food along with caffeine, artificial preservatives and added sugar are eliminated by following the Daniel Fast.
Fasters can also choose to eliminate other areas of distraction from their lives. For me, this included entertainment, current events and personal social media.
“So, how’s it going?” you might be asking.
Well, eliminating entertainment and current events have been an epic fail. I guess relaxing and watching TV in the evening and checking out what’s happening on my favorite news sites are habits that can be hard to break. But, each day is a new day to practice this commitment!
What I have been completely startled by has been my ability to stick to the prescribed list of foods included in the Fast and, more importantly, not turn to my old frenemy Sugar. I honestly didn’t think I could do it, and, even more honestly, it is not “I” alone that is able to accomplish this. Through prayer, reading scripture and participating in group devotions online, I have God, my family and my community alongside me and supporting me every step of the way.
Even more surprising is how this Fast is affecting my ability to focus and my motivation to follow through on commitments I have made, to this fast, to my work and to other responsibilities. In my life, the Fast is like a new stream bubbling up from the ground. Before, all the indulgences I allowed myself dried up my motivation and energy and pulled me toward a dry, barren existence. Now, this new bubbling stream, flowing out in all directions, is watering areas of my life that were slowly dying and helping everything feel fresh and renewed.
The irony that self-denial actually promotes personal growth is something I never thought about before. It’s exciting and I am looking forward to what happens next!
Want to learn more? Contact Sarah!