The Year of the Fast
We need to go back in time a little to recap on a few events from this fall.
On September 22, I had the privilege of sharing our 7 fast journey with the women of The Moody Church. Three of the other ladies who joined me in the fast also shared, and we had a really rich discussion. We shared our many failures as well as the things the Lord has shown us and continued to show us. It was such an encouraging morning!
The discussion opened first with the 7 trailer video, and it was almost surreal to think that we actually did all those things over seven months. As I prepared in the days before the conference, I realized how much happened over the course of those months. Each month there were so many lessons, and it was so nice to take time to reflect on that experience. The fast ended somewhat abruptly for us and in the middle of the post-adoption fallout that we never had a chance to really debrief and process what we had learned. The conference was a great opportunity to go back and look through the old blog posts and recall the crazy journey.
I still can’t believe that we did it, and I really can’t believe that other couples joined us! When I originally saw the book, I thought I was crazy for wanting to try it myself. Apparently I am friends with other crazy people!
It’s been amazing to see the response from other women at our church after hearing us speak. I’ve had a number of women come up to me on Sundays to share their journeys. One woman proudly declared that she wore the same outfit for three days in a row and that it wasn’t too hard. Another woman cornered me in the bathroom to talk about how hard it would be to give up wearing accessories. I love these hearts! Most people would hear this idea and just brush it off. By letting the Holy Spirit creep in ever so slightly to challenge, these women are ready for God to do amazing things.
Mary Welchel, our director of Women’s Ministries, pushed us to reduce excess in our lives in some way over the coming months, even if not through a 7 month fast. I personally was again challenged since I’ve been off of fasting for almost two months now. We are kicking around some big ideas for 2013, but in the meantime, I’ve been re-challenged to confront excess.
We have kept a lot of our habits from our 7 experience. We are still recycling, keeping car use to a minimum when we can, eating in, avoiding shopping, and stretching those groceries as far as they will go. I’ve been trying to learn more about products that are regularly produced through slave labor, the biggest culprits being chocolate, coffee, sugar, and clothes. As a result, we are having a fair-trade or non-chocolate Halloween. I am threatening to give out pencils, but we are slightly concerned about getting our tires slashed. As I research baby clothes/products and maternity clothes, I am avoiding brands that are known to use slaves. Also, we are planning on using cloth diapers to cut down on cost and waste.
One big area where we are trying to avoid excess is in baby preparations. So far, we’ve managed not to acquire any baby products in our apartment (although I suspect more than a few people who will remain nameless are stockpiling stuff in their basements). The purpose is two-fold. First, we want to focus on the present and not plan for the future. This process is in God’s hands, and He has made no promises that a baby will be born in January. We are trusting in Him and not living in fear, but we also want to respect this reality.
The second reason is that we don’t need anything yet. One of the big lessons I took away from 7 was that I only want to buy what I need. [Now, granted, my needs are often wants in disguise. I try and be reasonable, and this is an area that is personal. We all define needs differently.] The point is that I am the type of person who would buy three bottles of shampoo so that I wouldn’t have to go to Target again for 6 months. I once found 6 cans of shaving cream under the bathroom sink. Apparently I was fearing that the recession might cause a nation-wide shaving cream shortage. Bottom line is that in the world of baby preparations it seems that it is absolutely reasonable to talk about which tricycle to buy a fetus. I am trying to stay away from that discussion for as long as possible.
The other big 7 takeaway for 2012 will be felt at Christmas. We have decided to fast from Christmas gifts this year. I am scared and excited. If you know me, you know that gifts are my love language and that Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year. I love love love gifts. I love buying them, wrapping them, making lists of what I want, seeing them under the tree, and unwrapping them in excitement. When I was a kid, I would wake up every hour and creep downstairs to see if Santa had come yet. This is going to be hard for me, but I am anxious to see what God will do.
The idea was really born last Christmas with my parents and sisters. We talked about how it would be nice to have a Christmas not focused on gifts so it was an an easy sell to them this year, and the whole fam is on board. We’ve decided that we will do some sort of family event to celebrate the day (either fun or service or both). My parents are in charge of scheduling that, so I’ll have to let you know what they decide. I am also excited that we will have some extra money that we will be able to donate.
This gift-free Christmas is not totally born out of a desire to keep Christ in Christmas or some silly slogan like that. Although the amount of money, advertising and focus on gifts at Christmas is nauseating, I do realize that there are lots of benefits to gift giving. I’m sure I’ll share more posts on that in the future. The main point for me is to keep focusing on areas of excess and detox from my obsessive consumerism. There have been too many negative things associated with gifts at Christmas, so we need to take a step back and reassess.
These 7 lessons continue to pour out and infect my life. I can’t get away from the lessons learned, the opening of my heart to the world, and the communion with my Lord. I almost want to do it again…