This weekend I culminated a 3-week long fast. This was the longest I’ve fasted, outside of Lent‘s 40 day fast, which I observe each year. Typically when I fast, it is in observance of a church-wide fast that only lasts 1 day or 1 week at a time. I often struggle with various spiritual and personal issues that require more focused devotional time with God, and fasting helps one draw closer to God by withdrawing from self. But it’s hard to be connected spiritually when I’m “too busy” being connected to everything else.
You see, I’m not really too busy to make time for my spiritual rejuvenation. It’s just… I’m allergic to staying focused and on task. I lack discipline in my fitness goals, academic goals, and especially my spiritual goals. I dedicate a small portion of each day to reading devotionals (often times forwarded to me by good friends, which I’m thankful for), but I know that I don’t put in the same amount of time into my spiritual relationship as I do other things in my life. But like any other relationship, its necessary to make the intentional effort to spend quality time so that the relationship can grow and flourish.
So when an older friend of mine from church asked me to join a group of people to do a “start of the year” fast, I immediately agreed. I knew this would be my chance to have a real life “come to Jesus” moment, to regain focus in my commitment to my spiritual relationship and my other neglected priorities.
To do this, I not only fasted from certain foods (meat, white rice/pasta, soda), I fasted from major distractions. Yep, I gave up my beloved Facebook, Twitter, television and even gchat during the week.
To be perfectly honest, the food fast was the easiest. While the smell of a good hamburger or perfectly fried wings was tempting, I found new and tasty vegetarian/pescatarian recipes to indulge in. Giving up social media, however, during a time when I used it the most–AT WORK–was soooooo hard! Detaching myself from the very outlet that allows me to think aloud, share ideas, vent, or just be foolish for foolishness sake was probably one of the most difficult tests of discipline I’ve ever encountered1!!
It was a bit of an ego bruise to face the realization that the virtual world does not revolve around me and life indeed goes on whether I’m plugged into the machine or not. I struggled not to login to collectively wish my sorority sisters “Happy Founders Day” or to read the reactions to my YouTube debut2. But I was committed (or resolved, if you will) to my fast and to what it signified. I wasn’t going to cheat for a brief, fleeting moment of satisfaction.
So, after I got over this desire to just be in the virtual “know”, I became immensely productive and learned to really enjoy and appreciate my new found free time. I had so much more time to do my work (had a grant proposal and manuscript to write), to exercise and pay attention to my diet, to read leisurely (currently reading A Feast for Crows), and most importantly to spend in devotion, mediation and prayer. I felt good about my new found discipline and the benefits that came with it.
The fast gave me a renewed sense of purpose and appreciation for the many blessings I’ve received and will receive. By giving up a few of the things that have prevented me from achieving the discipline and focus I craved, I **wait for moment of revelation** gained the discipline and focus I craved. Funny how that works, huh? 🙂
Being unplugged from the noise allowed me to be plugged into myself and my Creator. And that feeling is priceless. It feels good to step outside of my comfort zone3 and actually hold myself accountable for my actions. I’m far from perfection, but God is still working on me. Now that I’ve reopened the path to communication, me and the Big G can keep working things out. I look forward to fasting again for Lent and finding new ways to connect by disconnecting.
Are there things you need to unplug from? Do you spend more time in your distractions than you do in your priorities? Do you ever take time out for an extended period of time to just focus on yourself and your goals (i.e. through fasting)? What are some things you do to retreat from the noise of the world around you?
Plugging back in just a little,
1 No lie, it was sheer torture initally. Wall sliding and fiend-like behavior occurred frequently during the first week. Social media withdrawal is a real life condition (lol).
2 Looking back, its a bit ironic that I gave up certain media distractions but not ALL such distractions. I managed to develop an addiction for many of the “sh*t ____say” YouTube videos. I mean, I watched my favorites EVERY day, MULTIPLE times a day. And to make matters worse, it kilt me not to be able to share my new addiction with others via social media. SMDH. I have a problem. #iNeedFree
3 I know, I know, it’s sad that social media is my “comfort zone”. But in my defense, I do have a REAL life outside of the internet, that is highly social (lol). I’m actually one of the most social persons I know. I just so happen to also love my virtual social ties. *shrug*