It’s the new year everybody!
I haven’t made my list yet, not sure what I want to happen this year.
But my church always does a 21 day fast at the start of the year.
I don’t really fast food, I think I might be hypoglycemic, not eating makes me feel really sick, really fast, and no sugar will have a weird effect on me too.
I’ve tried food fasting in the past and never got beyond 1 day at most, and that was torture.
Sometimes I fast a particular food instead.
But after my scare last year of dropping 15 lbs, and thankfully, gaining them all back, I have decided to just be happy to eat normally.
So, I tend to fast things like movies, TV shows, or writing too much.
Fasting could really just be called abstaining since it’s not always about food and water.
While it’s gotten a bad rap thanks to the rise of bulimia and Eating Disorders, fasting isn’t unhealthy when it’s done in the right proportions. It cleanses your system, uses up excess sugars, and for most people, won’t make you feel all that bad. (I’m an unfortunate exception.)
While fasting is not commanded per sec to Christians, Jesus said that his followers would fast when he was no longer with them. Which would be now.
Not every godly character in the Bible fasted, but many prophets, kings and judges did.
While I have no fasted food that often, I have learned somethig just from what I do fast.
And I thought it might be worht writing about.
I’ve alwas been terrible at the prayer and worship part of fasting. I’m told that’s why I haven’t had better success with it.
I used to try it and felt no different, so I didn’t bother.
I’m one of those people who doesn’t like to be demanded to do things. So my relationship with Spiritual Discipline has always been tempestuous. Either I got carried way denying myself because it was so counter-intuitive, or I didn’t do it at all.
I still struggle with that.
Spiritual Discipline has been neglected a lot in the Western Church. My church does practice it and encourage a handful of them, but there’s a bunch we don’t really address either.
I hear Catholics do some, but most Catholics I’ve met weren’t serious enough about the faith for me to ask them about it.
I know that one discipline is silence and another is solitude. That’s hard now. We almost never have to be alone with our thoughts.
Actually that’s where I found fasting things like TV and movies to be helpful.
I have images and sounds playing through my memory all day, every day.
I had that before I had TV, honestly. The same things used to happen with books. We have to have something to fill up our thoughts.
Better that then anxiety. I suffered from anxiety so much in the past, even as a kid, I used to use books to escape, then I used TV. Now I use writing as well.
None of those things are bad, but you get to rely on them too much. They aren’t perfect substitutes for God. But they do distract you.
When you give that up, even for three days, the difference is immense.
24 hours without TV and I feel like a different person usually. A whole week, and it’s like I’m more clear.
Already, in the last three days, I’ve been bored, listless, and blue ( not fasting TV, but I don’t think yo all need to know what I’m giving up. It’s a private matter, I’m just using TV as an easy example.)
I fill up my days so much with this thing, I don’t know what to do without it. I push aside prayer, worship, and even physical exercise because I do it so much.
It’s too much and I know that, but I don’t want to stop.
Fasting can be like a self chosen intervention.
It’s never easy, but because I have been doing it for years, I do escape the lie many people believe, which is that it’s not possible.
I learned at a young age to use self control because of fasting. Not perfectly, but at a level most kids don’t reach. Most adults don’t either. How many of us really try to control ourselves from giving into urges.
Heck, they tell us that’s unhealthy now.
It’s really not. Most doctors would probably tell you you should not give in to every urge you have all the time. Especially if you’re an addict.
I was watching a YT video last week “Why you’ll marry the wrong person” and this man was saying that we’re all addicts to something, whatever we use to keep from being alone with ourselves.
I felt a little called out, to be honest.
I used to be okay with being alone with myself, but it got to where I had anxiety every time I was alone with my thoughts.
But then again, that could be just a result of overstimulating myself so much to begin with.
Our brains get addicted to screens, and if we get off them for a brief time, we can feel withdrawal. We’re not necessarily depressed, so much as we’re empty.
You can tell because the depresison goe waway while you’re on the screen, but ocmes back once you’ve been off for five minutes. That’s addiction.
Some addiction to screens is inevitable for us, like some dependence on sugar is.
But there is a way to cut down on your absolute dependence it, and for that, fasting is ideal.
Also turn on the blue light filter on your screen if you have one, that helps, the blue light is addictive and stressfull.
I used to be very judgmental of people who were on their phones all the time, till I got a smartphone. Then I understood.
I don’t play games on mine, in an effort to stay on it less. But I do edit, and read web comics on it. I do use it to play music. And I’m not even as bad as I used to be.
Cutting back on it is hard. And if I’m not on my phone, I’m on my laptop, like I am right now.
I still read real books, though, and it’s amazinghow revitalized your brain feels after a few chapters if you stick it out.
Since I started this fast, I’m both more tired at night, and more ready to go to bed on time. Less stimulation to keep me up. My sisters too. We’ve gone to bed at 1 AM for months, but since I started this, we’ve been going to bed by 12 am or even before 11 pm. Go figure.
I’m not anti-screen. I do like moives, and I like being able to write faster and edit faster on a screen. It’s a nice thing.
But I am against being mastered by anything, as Paul or Peter wrote in the bible. All things are lawful for us, but not all things are helpful.
My family has always been against a lot of technology in our lives, my mom didn’t all of us to have a TV. And she was against having a computer that played movies for years.
I can see why, my Dad got addicted to it as soon as we got it, and to video games.
I almost ended up that way too.
But when I was 13-14, I started fasting. Actually I think I started at 12.
I didn’t know what I was doing at the time, and some stuff makes me cringe now, but the effort was there. And when I did that, I learned to control myself and my urges to play on that computer.
Also seeing my dad’s addictive behavior scared the crap out of me.
Years later, it’s still a temptation, but it’s not as big of one. I can abstain if I want to. It’s good to refresh that every once in a while.
I worked it out.
I think God put me on the path just for that reason.
And while my mental health is not always as good as I wish, it’s much better than most of the people I know, and they don’t all have that practice. My critical thinking ability is also far better, as is my reading comprehension.
I don’t believe this would be so rare, if we had more limits to our screen time. The kids I know whose parents limit their screen intake a lot are much smarter and usually better behaved. I know my sisters and I were better behaved for our babysitters as kids.
It is what it is.
Fasting taught me to set rules for myself even if my parents no longer did it for me. I think my mom taught me restraint, having limits to desserts, TV, and game time. And in turn I learned to employ it on myself.
With lots of prayer also.
It’s now been almost 2 weeks of my fast, (this post is late because I got sick), and so far, it’s not yielded miraculous results.
But you know, I don’t really think it needs to. I used to think that fasting would always be like the big ones in the Bible. Spiritual awakening, breakthrough, seeing visions, or whatever.
It’s easy to forget that fasting was regularly practiced as a reminder to focus on God, and things that are more important than our physical comfort.
For me, sacrificing just one of the many distractions I fill up my time with, reminds me that I can live without that thing.
We have a very desperate culture now. People often “jokingly” say that they won’t kill themselves just so they can find out what happens next in their favorite anime, TV show, or web-series.
I knew MHA was becoming a little too important to me when the news that season 5 would be delayed made me feel suicidal for a second. I hadn’t realized how contagious that way of thinking is.
And we should call it what it is, idolatry. We’re worshiping these shows.
Some people aren’t even subtle about it, they call the creators their “lord and savior.”
Is it supposed to be a joke? Maybe.
Ever notice that some things can be a joke, but still totally serious also.
See, worship isn’t always about thinking something is worth devoting your life and purpose too.
The Bible mocks and reproaches people who bow to wood, and stone, and gold gods. Saying that they will use half a block of wood to burn, but the other half to make a god, and will bow to it.
God apparently finds this ridiculous. And so do we, on paper.
But we’ll devote endless hours of time to 2D characters and mediocre story writing, just because it’s our crap, you know…and we know it’s crap, or it’s not real, but we don’t care. How is that really different from burning half the material we made our god from?
You can use firewood and not worship it, and you can watch shows and not worship them–but, if you’re surrounding yourself with people who do, it’s so easy to become twisted by that. I know plenty of Christians who compromise their morals for shows.
And maybe I have t oo, much to my shame.
I’ve cut way back on my anime viewing, I think my craze is dying down. I still enjoy a few, like any other medium. I did the same with Webtoon. I read it like crazy at first, but inevitably, it didn’t satisfy me, and now I just read a few episodes on an average day, sometimes none at all. Take me maybe 10-20 minutes. That’s probably harmless.
I confess, I make the same mistakes as everyone else. I think that my need for emotional fulfillment can be met by fiction. Even in creating my own.
And what is an idol, but fiction? It’s a fictional god, isn’t it? Back before we had common forms of entertainment, worshiping an idol was a nice distraction…people used to worship idols by having sex, did you know that? Not too different from anime and it’s fan service, and husbands and waifus, now is it?
Except you can’t actually have sex with an anime character, so we’ve traded something that was at least partially real, for an even more twisted version of it.
I mean, having a crush on a fictional character is normal, but…the kind of stuff people do to fetish-ize it…that’s not normal (and I don’t crush on fictional characters as it is.)
What I’m saying is that, when you get caught up in this temptation to worship and go after other things, a fast may be the best way to recenter yourself.
Mine hasn’t changed my whole life, but it changes a small part of it. I have to think about God a little more, and remember that what I’m fasting was not enough for me anyway.
And while I may not feel high off of God’s spirit right now, and fasting doesn’t always make me feel closer to God, I have learned that it’s not necessarily the purpose of fasting to do that. It can, and I have seen a slight improvement from it…but fasting is to re-evaluate priorities, and realize your mistakes.
I realize, I have mistakenly made certain things too important in my life. I realize that I need to think more about how I spread God’s word, and His message.
I realize that the ways I do it, like through writing this blog, may not be how I wish I could (I love writing, but I love interacting with people in person also) but it is available to me.
I may never know if it really helped anyone or not, but I can put it out there, that’s all we can do.
I am reminded that whatever else changes in my life, God is my constant.
And, I am reminded that all the things of this world are temporary.
Time was that the thought of losing one of my distractions would give me a panic attack.
And I own’t say I wouldn’t be upset now, but now I do stop myself and think “But if that happens, I still have other interests, and God can still use me in other ways, and I’ll get through it. It won’t be the end of me.”
I realize I am unique in having this understanding, not because I am especially good or free of temptation, but because I made it a practice to go without things for years, and to learn that I could bear not having them. You can live without anything, just about.
And I guess that is what I learned from fasting, to sum it up.
I hope this was interesting or even helpful to you.
If you now feel like you may want to try fasting yourself, I am no authority on it, but I do suggest starting small. Try 1-3 days of fasting a food or item or hobby.
If you think you can, try a week or even two weeks of no TV or whatever your addiction is.
You can also set aside one day to not watch TV or be on your phone, I’ve done this, with pretty good results. Brain break, right?
Another thing to try is setting aside an hour or half an hour each day to just not be on your phone, and to have fewer distractions, quiet time.
If you can get up to a month or even more than that, that’s about the Bible’s usual limit, 40 days. Anything longer than that is more of a lifestyle change than a fast, but a fast is a great time to ask yourself if you do need to make this a permanent change in your life.
And don’t brag about fasting, Jesus warned us not to do that. Only tell people who will need to know just so they know not to tempt you. Like I may refrain form making cookies while my sister or mom is fasting sugar, or I may not talk about shows or YouTube vids if they are fasting that. It’s different for everyone.
If you can, fast with your family, makes it easier to stick to it.
Remember also, something doesn’t have to be a bad thing if you fast it, it just has to be a problem for you. Don’t preach at other people that they shouldn’t partake of the thing you’re fasting from, unless they are rubbing it in your face, it’s really none of your business what they do.
Other than that, the rules are up to you and God. I’m just laying out the groundwork for how the Bible says to treat fasting. Not to be depressed about it.
Really, God would rather us not fast at all it would seem if we can’t do it with a good attitude. Repenting during a fast is okay, normal and expected. But whining about it is just annoying.
(And I need to watch myself for that too, I’m realizing. Wry comments can so easily become complaints.)
With that, I think I’ll leave you to decide, until next time, stay honest–Natasha.
Make a one-time donation
Make a monthly donation
Make a yearly donation
Choose an amount
Or enter a custom amount
Your contribution is appreciated.
Your contribution is appreciated.
Your contribution is appreciated.DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly