Well, I did say I would chronicle my fasting experiences so here goes.
One of my standard spiritual disciplines during Lent is to partake in intermittent fasting. I’ve found this method highly adaptable and appreciate the ability to make adjustments regularly without feeling like I’ve ‘failed’ at a fast - more on that later.
In short, when Lent rolls around I begin the season with an Ash Wednesday/Thursday fast. This 48 hour fast jump starts my mind and body into the season nicely. Don’t worry, 48 hours used to sound crazy to me too. That’s part of why I’m sharing my experiences this year for other people to hear what it’s actually like.
After that initial jump start, my plan for fasting is to consume one last chunk of protein on Sunday evenings and press through till Thursday morning. In my mind, Wednesday evening Lent worship becomes the pinnacle of my fast. I’ll record my experience of that serendipitous timing as we get closer. But first, let me address the maybe not so obvious: I didn’t fast all the way through to Thursday last week. I broke my fast Wednesday morning instead of Thursday morning. I wasn’t disappointed and I didn’t feel like I failed - and if I had, I’d be doing this all wrong. Fasting isn’t a thing that’s about itself - it’s about something completely different from itself. It’s the vehicle employed to reach a destination - not the destination proper. This was a hard concept for me to learn and continues to be a challenge for me to practice. I’m a competitive person by nature and I like to accomplish the goals I set for myself. I don’t need someone to push me in the weight room because I’m very comfortable challenging myself and actually feel defeated when I don’t accomplish what I set out to do.
So I can tell you, when I first started fasting, it was more about me than anything else. I wanted to see how well I’d handle it. I wanted to see how long I could make it. I wanted to set goals and advance them as needed. I wanted to fast for me. And it turned out that fasting that way was just a hassle. I remember thinking ‘why would Jesus want any of his followers to do this?’ Yeah - turns out he doesn’t. At least, not the way I was doing it.
But I’ve learned some lessons over the years and I’m hoping I can share them with you in an effort to help you avoid making the same mistakes and maybe you’ll be moved to try a new spiritual discipline yourself. Last week it became clear to me that I was not going to have the energy required for Wednesday - and I do some important things on Wednesday’s. I didn’t feel defeated or disappointed. I just felt what was really going on with my mind and body and I knew what I needed to do for the overall good of my family and my church. And - today’s the beginning of another fast that I may or may not break before Thursday morning as planned. That doesn’t matter to me - and that’s what actually matters the most.
So today is day one. This is the only actually ‘hard’ day of the fast. People often find that hard to believe but it’s true. My hunger pangs will be for real an annoying part of my day today, but they will have subsided by Tuesday and usually aren’t even an issue when I wake up.
I’ll probably post an update a little later today with some more detail of what I’m experiencing. Stay tuned!