Fasting and Internalization

You people are all insane. I hope you know that. I run another blog… no, you don’t get to find out what blog it is (anonymity, remember?) and it took me forever to build up a following on that blog. So far I’ve kept a pretty steady ratio of posts to followers here and I don’t understand that at all. Seriously people, what I have to say isn’t that interesting, and it certainly isn’t particularly important. Why in the world do you want to read my random thoughts?

Well, now that that’s out of my system, I finished my fast today. It was good… strange, but good. I’ve always had an easy time fasting… don’t get me wrong, when I’m prideful and decide that I should just fast for three days to be ‘spiritual’ I usually last about six hours before eating something. However, I’ve always tried to make a practice of only fasting when God tells me to fast, when there’s a particular purpose to the fast beyond exercising my own arrogant self-righteousness. So, what I mean is that when God tells me to fast, he makes it easy. I can’t take any credit for fasting being easy, it’s simply God making allowance for my many and varied weaknesses.

This fast was not easy. God provided in my distress. He gave me the strength, but for the entire first day of my fast I just wanted to eat something. I couldn’t go fifteen minutes without thinking about getting a hamburger, or a steak, or an ice cream cone… whatever. For the life of me I couldn’t get my mind off of food, but God takes care of us in our times of need. The second day of the fast was a little easier, though when my roommate started cooking hamburgers on his grill I nearly lost it, and then today was the easiest of all.

Still, the fast was streching, challenging, and summative. I honestly feel like what God’s been trying to do was mostly done before my fast even started… although the two weeks of periodically fasting from sleep might have had something to do with that. Nonetheless, fasting is an important ritual. It’s provided a good, clear ending to this lesson (not that the lesson is actually over). It’s important to have these memorable moments in our lives that let us remember the lessons that we learn. The things that help us to internalize these lessons, and that is the point, isn’t it, to internalize these lessons? To make them a part of our daily lives, a part of our overall spiritual experience? The goal is to let God actually change us, instead of simply listening and then assuming that something magical happened, even though we haven’t actually learned anything or changed in any fundamental way.

This is one of the things that ritual does for us. It finalizes things, gives us a place to look back to and say, ‘Yes, I remember when God taught me that…’ So, all in all,  the week was good, God humbled me a little, loved me a little, pushed me a little, and taught me a little, and I hope that I’ve come out the better for it. I guess only time will tell in the end.

The Great Green Beast Bites Again

I want to be a better person. Honestly, I wish I was a better person, but that’s going to take more work I think. A friend of mine just posted on facebook that he was excited about his ex-girlfriend’s wedding. This is a place that I would like to be at. Well, honestly… I’d like to be able to actually be friends with my exs… not that most of them would call themselves my exs in the first place. I was just that guy they hung out with when they were getting over something. Which honestly is probably a part of why we aren’t still friends in the first place.

I’m honestly note sure whether its more because of me and my inability to let go, or more because they just stopped caring about me that we aren’t friends anymore. It’s a pretty mixed bag I think. There are a couple where I cut off the friendship because of something, and a few where they cut off the friendship because of something, but the friendship always gets cut off. It’s not that I don’t want to be friends with the girls that reject me, I usually do. I like them as people… that’s generally why I wanted to date them in the first place. I don’t stop caring about them. Heck, I still pray for girls that rejected me 5 years ago, and not that they’d come back. I think a part of it is that I tend to date immature women, and I think a part of it is that I’m easily hurt, and a part of it is probably due to my pride, but I’m honestly not sure that the reason matters. The simple fact is that I don’t stay friends with the girls I go out with, and I’d honestly like to be a person who does.

That might not ever happen. Maybe that simply isn’t who God made me to be, and maybe I need to learn to be content with who I am, instead of wanting to be someone that I think is somehow better. I’m positive that, whatever the case, I need to let God work in his own way and in his own time in me, instead of trying to convince him that  he’s screwed up somewhere along the way and I should be someone that I’m not.

So, apparently I’m fasting sometime next week. I don’t have any details yet, God just sprung this on me in the woods this afternoon. Well, I shouldn’t say ‘sprung’ given what he’s asking me to give up I kind of saw it coming. I think for times like this ritual becomes important, and I think God knows that I need a ritual to actually give up something that’s so much a part of me (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, look back a couple of posts). Rituals are important in our lives, whether we like it or not, even if it’s just our morning shower and cup of coffee.

However, in times of stress, times of hardship, times of anger, and times of fear… any strong emotion really, ritual takes on a new level of importance. It allows us to process the depth of what we are doing and feeling, the gravity and the power of it all, and make no mistake, this is a time of stress for me. Honestly, I think that the reason I haven’t been sleeping well the past couple of weeks is because God has been bringing me to this… this release.

I’m not going to lie. I am utterly and completely terrified of giving up my pain. Honestly, it sounds stupid when I say it like that, but it’s true nonetheless. This core of pain has been one of the most significant and lasting parts of my life and identity. It has motivated a lot of my behavior, good and bad, and it has helped me survive some very difficult times. Honestly, I am very much afraid that if I give this up I won’t be me anymore. At the same time, I shouldn’t. God has never called me to ‘just be me’. He has called me to be like Christ, and actually, actively becoming more like Christ will inevitably mean becoming less like me.

Still, I’m terrified. I don’t want to lose myself, and as much as I do want to give it up, I also don’t. So, I sit here watching facebook and trying not to be jealous of people who seem like they have it more together than I do. Not that they do have it more together. They might, they might not, and I’ll probably never know, but they seem like they have it more together. Once again, I find myself needing desperately to turn to God and plead for his aid in my time of idiocy. I’m learning, even if it is slowly, to always turn to him for my needs. It works so much better.