Advent, Food, and Me

I fasted once this week.

I don’t say that for a pat on the back.

In fact, I’m not a good faster for several reasons.

First, I wasn’t fasting primarily for spiritual reasons. Last week was Thanksgiving and, well, I ate. Also, I’m about to quit breastfeeding, and, well, that burns calories. I still have about 10 more pounds of baby weight I’d like to lose so that I can fit into those two great pairs of pants I bought before I got pregnant. Mostly, I was fasting to reset my body to lose that weight. I find if I can say no to my body in a big way, it’s easier to say no to the chocolates I want after dinner.

Second, I didn’t fast for long—not even 24 hours. I fasted breakfast and lunch, and ate after 5pm. It’s possible that I’ve fasted longer than that at some point, but I can’t remember it. Probably because I blocked it out—too painful. Maybe for you, breakfast and lunch would be a lot, but I know people who’ve fasted for 40 days, so my breakfast and lunch feels small. Indeed, I usually allow myself coffee with cream in the morning.

I’m not a good faster, and I wasn’t fasting because I like to fast.

Many think Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount mean that we shouldn’t tell anyone when we’re fasting. I think Jesus was telling them to not brag and expect that others will think they’re great because they’re fasting.

Anyhow, I fasted once this week.

I’ve been thinking about Advent – and waiting – and what I’m waiting for – and how early Christians fasted Wednesdays and Fridays – and how my family and I sometimes observe a vegan fast on Wednesdays and Fridays during Advent.

We started that fast on Wednesday, and that was the day I also fasted breakfast and lunch. Truth is, I had coffee with cream and two tea biscuits to begin my day. Like I said, I’m not a good faster.

I fasted without expectation of God showing up. I mostly expected to be hungry and grumpy and have low energy, though I was hoping it would reset my body.

I’ve not fasted for a few years—I’ve been trying to get pregnant or pregnant or breastfeeding since 2013. Fasting and physically creating new life (or hoping to) just don’t really go together.

I’ve been thinking that I should begin to fast regularly again, now that I’m not creating new life, and I’ve honestly not been looking forward to it. At all.

But I fasted once this week.

And I had the best day ever.

I started off hungry, even though I ate those two little tea biscuits. But soon, the hunger left my mind and I began to feel deep joy.

I could see things more clearly than I’ve been seeing.

The spiritual haze that has made it hard to see God in my life was lifted and the sun shone.

In fact, I was ready to receive from God like never before. That afternoon, I received what I imagine was a picture from God. I was a carrier of the Kingdom of God, with an Acts 2 flame of the Holy Spirit on my head that brought light everywhere I went.

And I don’t know about you, but sometimes I look at my life and wonder:

What the heck am I doing? Why am I where I am? Why do I work where I work? Why is my family is the way it is?

My life feels atypical because I find myself crossing traditional boundaries between cultures, between Christian traditions, and between women and men. Sometimes I wonder whether I’ve made good decisions.

And then I received an impression from God that I’m in the perfect spot for me.

I didn’t know I needed encouragement, reinvigoration, validation, the ability to see. I thought I just needed to reset my body physically, but God wanted to reset me spiritually.

I thought I just needed to reset my body physically, but God wanted to reset me spiritually. Click To Tweet

I realized that I’ve missed fasting.

Even though I’m not a good faster, and I always allow myself coffee with cream, I’ve had the habit of fasting two meals once a week at various times in my life. And God has been faithful.

I don’t earn God’s faithfulness by fasting.

I’m just better able to see God’s faithfulness when I fast.

I’m better able to hear God’s voice when I fast.

Every time I think about my hunger, I think about God, and I get a spiritual reset.

I don’t earn God’s faithfulness by fasting. I’m better able to see God’s faithfulness when I fast. Click To Tweet

Now, mind you, I may fast next week again and it may just make me grumpy. Fasting times don’t always “work” the way I want them to.

But I’ll keep fasting because it may just be working in me in ways that I don’t immediately see. My prayers that accompany fasting and Advent waiting may just be working toward some goal in the Kingdom that I don’t even know right now.

And maybe what I don’t see is even greater than what I do see.

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About Amy F Davis Abdallah