What really matters to you? To me, it’s all about love. I love God, I love my family, and I love my friends. More and more lately, I love this amazing woman that God made to live in this amazing body that is typing this message so adeptly. Yes, I am learning to love me. And it’s something I would have considered sacrilegious to say in the past. Love myself? I know every verse about why I shouldn’t. What changed? I learned one very important one, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” This was my problem.
Stephanie Orsini didn’t like herself much. She talked a big talk about self-esteem and self-acceptance, but she really didn’t have much of it. She treated herself badly with her negative self-talk and her disrespectful treatment of her body. And she treated others pretty badly, too. Slowly, over time, I learned a lot about how to love myself, and now I’m learning to act like it. I’m taking care of my health, speaking kindly to myself, and expecting respectful treatment from other people. And I don’t care if that offends them. Because though I love them, I need to love myself in order to love them. I don’t allow people to get away with mistreating the people I love. Why should I allow them to mistreat me?
Anyway, as an extension of this, I began to really see myself as a powerful woman of God, a woman of integrity, and as someone who God can use mightily. And in order to prepare for that, I need to make sure that I’m always growing. So, I experimented with longer prayer times, more Bible reading, and fasting in various different forms, along with great preaching that keeps me positive. Joyce Meyer, Joseph Prince, and Steven Furtick minister to me powerfully. (I know that plenty of people speak negatively of the ministries of these three, but that is not my problem. God will use whom he will use, and I am glad to receive their words of encouragement and life.) Of course, through some amazing theologians of the past such as Spurgeon, Catherine Marshall, and C. S. Lewis, I’ve been full of the Word since I came to Christ. There are other lesser well-known names that slip my mind right now, but I read, study, and learn so much. Yet, for decades, my growth has been minimal. I think it has a lot to do with how I allowed my self-worth to be eroded by the disrespect and downright disdain that I allowed others to aim my way.
So, as an outgrowth of this, the Daniel Fast is again the plan for January. Sadly, my birthday and my anniversary are both in this month. I’ve tried waiting for February, but I fizzle out when there’s not the momentum of doing it alongside some friends, even online ones. So, I’m taking January by storm! With veggies!
Now, for some practical stuff: I customize my fast to match what I consider feasible. All organic isn’t likely to work, but I try to really cut out all refined sugar completely. (I don’t drink coffee, so that’s easy for me.)
If you’re interested in finding out what the heck I’m talking about, check out this page: https://danielfast.wordpress.com/daniel-fast-food-list/
I’m not affiliated with her, and I don’t do everything exactly her way, but her list is pretty comprehensive, and I like to use it to remind myself of the available options out there when I get stuck and can’t figure out what else to eat.
Anyway, what have I learned on previous fasts? I’ve learned that a lot of what I “must have” to eat are cravings that can be overcome with a little (or a LOT OF) effort. I also learned that I am much more likely to cry out to Jesus and stay close to him when I’m hungry for one of those cravings, so it becomes a really spiritual fast for me. (I’m not kidding, it’s hardcore stuff.) I also learned that I cannot let myself follow anyone else into too much strictness, because all that does is sabotage me.
I have to allow myself a very carefully crafted amount of wiggle room. For instance, if I absolutely cannot survive another moment without a bite, a side salad is not going to do it, but a couple of pintos and cheese “fresco” from Taco Bell can hit the spot. It’s not strictly abiding by the food list rules, but I can manage to make it through another 10 minutes and abide by the spirit of the law if not the letter.
I’ve also learned that I become a different person while I’m fasting. A lot of the “me” falls away, and I sometimes find new aspects to my faith, my personality, and my physical health that come to the surface. It’s a challenge that grows me in so many areas that it’s worth embarking on again.
So, I’ll be blogging about it when I think of it, and I’d love for you to ask questions. Thanks!