Fasting is an important process for almost all religions. It’s about denying ones self to focus on God. The hunger inside will grow, gnawing at your insides, being an ever present reminder of your choice to deny the body the pleasure of food, but by having that emotional control to deny yourself food (or whatever you fast from) you satisfy your spiritual hunger seeking God. Learning that emotional control teaches discipline to follow the teachings of your choice of faith. It’s a great time of reflection and offers clarity to what is important in ones life.
I had the privilege to participate in a fast recently with my wife. The whole opportunity came about when we were discussing fasting with our Bible study group. There was discussion about the multiple ways we could fast, and that the whole point of the fast was to deny the body its pleasures. My wife and I decided to try fasting from food, and cell phones.
We started off with the cell phone fast. We agreed to stay off our phones unless we had a message or call. What I noticed immediately was how much I am on my phone. It’s become a sort of comfort entertainment that I use to pass the day. When things are slow at work I browse Facebook or Twitter. I look up funny pictures or videos to stimulate me even when there are other options to satisfy the craving.
I found after that the first day I had all of this free time. The phone was such a time killer. I believe I was on it four hours a day. Which may not seem like much, but when you consider the breakdown of my day it is a a lot. Instead of being on my phone I used that time to read additional verses, or attempt to challenge what I had learned. I took the focus off something important to my flesh and instead turned that focus to God.
After about a week of doing this the results were pretty much what we expected, by taking this bad habit out, and replacing it with a good one we were able to look at our lives a bit more critically. It allowed us to actually see how much we came to depend on our phone, and how much that pushed us away from each other. By removing the phone our relationship became focused on each other, and God.
I will discuss how our food fast was in a later post, but I would really like to reiterate that fasting is denying the flesh what it craves. If you examine your life what it is that your body craves that holds you from God?
I recently had the opportunity to attend a men’s retreat with my brother. This was something new for me to do in a Church as I have never really saw myself as one of the men. As the youngest of three, and all of my siblings much older than me I never believed that I would reach the point of being a “man”, but there I was with all the other men at this retreat. I had mixed feelings about it from the get go. I thought I was walking into this assembly where we would eat streak from a freshly killed deer carcass while discussing the finer points of how to spit a long distance. It was, however, much to my surprise a good lesson for me to learn from. It’s good lesson for anyone to learn from.
We started off in Genius 2:15 where God commanded Adam to not eat from the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Adam received this knowledge before Eve came into existence. Eve was then later temped by the serpent, and ate from the tree then gave some to Adam. Adam who stood there, and said nothing to Eve. Adam who did not attempt to stop Eve. Adam who was silent as Eve sinned, even though he knew that if they ate from the tree they would surely die.
The silence of man in this story is deafening. At the men’s retreat the speaker encouraged us to open up about what we were struggling with as men. To discuss with each other the problems in our lives. In my group of eight we had three people open up. My brother and I being two.
It was discouraging to open up about the hardest part of my life currently to these men who continued to stay silent rather than opening up about their lives. Men will die of silence. The second I told my story I regretted it. It felt like I made a fool of myself, and the only thing I could hear in the back of my head was, “Should have just shut up.”
It’s like that being a man. I watch my father do it, killing himself with silence. Ever so often I get these glimpses into his life. Brief ten second window’s into what he really feels, and what he went through. These ten second images have become engraved in my mind because the pain that he feels. These ten second windows are hell. He keeps them bottled up inside, and drinks them down. Every so often he recounts one, and it turns my stomach knowing that my father has gone through so much. I only want to reach out and hug him. Tell him I love him, that its ok, that its all behind him now, that I can be strong for him. Instead, I tell myself it’s not my place, that if it gets really bad I’ll tell him to stop. I’m just silent.
What can I do? What could I say? I’m struggling and need help! Help me please!
Its been hard absorbing all this information, and trying to implement it in my life. I bottle things up, and I stay silent.
So, I want to make a change. I will start small with my wife. I will tell her things, and be open. Then work outwards. I’ll let you know how it goes.