It's been 2 weeks and 1 day (but who's counting?).
Most days I can sub in tea or hot cocoa for my morning 'hot' drink, but there is something about the aroma of coffee in your nostrils and that dark, rich flavor on your tongue that just can't be replaced...ahhh.
Did I already say I miss coffee?
I decided to give up coffee (anything with espresso or coffee) for Lent.
I can think of a zillion reasons why it was a good choice- it's daily, it's part of a routine, it's something I would consider myself slightly 'addicted' to.
But the main reason is this- fasting is supposed to be hard. It's supposed to hurt a little.
...It is supposed to be uncomfortable and inconvenient ..the discomfort creates space for the Holy Spirit to move. This shake-up of my routine commands my attention. I can longer default to normal, usual mindless, thoughtless. (Jen Hatmaker, 7, 2012)
In years past, I've never really participated in the fast part of Lent. I've done various 'things' maybe give up something for a day or follow a reading plan.
**Sidenote: A couple years ago, I tried to give up the f-word for Lent. I failed miserably.
This should tell you something about my previous experience with Christianity and the purpose of Lent.
Last month, I saw a conversation happening on Twitter between Adrienne and Courtney about Jen Hatmaker's book- 7 and some bloggers reading through it together and writing about it in a series called 'Stage Your Own Mutiny.'
(Interestingly enough, after I decided to join up with the blogging group for The 7 Experiment, my church decided to do it as part of the women's bible study group. Which was so perfectly timed, it made for some interesting hashtags between Adrienne and me via twitter: #jesusdidit, #youbetterlisten)
I had heard of 7 from Courtney during the Influence Conference. I was intrigued by the concept but had never really looked into it. When I moved downtown to my condo, I did a HUGE reduction in stuff and have been interested in the minimalist-type lifestyle ever since so I was pretty excited about being part of this experiment.
Even thought I'm somewhat on a spending fast as part of my 2013 goals, I bought Jen's study guide for the 7 experiment and decided to join up with the other gals.
I read through the intro and watched the accompanying video.
I was blown away by some of the statistics- making $50,000 a year puts you in the top 1% of the world's wealthiest, $35,000 equals the top 4%*- really??
I had already been considering giving up coffee for Lent and this was the push I needed.
Jen's explanation of fasting as a means to shed those things clogging up our life and allow the Spirit in really spoke to me. I began to see fasting as less of a burden and more as an opportunity to do something a little greater than me.
And honestly, if there are people in the world that eat rice and beans everyday for their meals and I can't give up a daily latte...what does that say about me? What does that say about us as Americans?
Some notes I took during the intro video and accompanying questions:
- A fast doesn't just turn up God's voice- it gives us perspective.
- It's not just about 'decluttering'- we can simplify for justice. While we are OVER, lots are LESS. What is our responsibility as human beings? as Christians?
These are pretty tough questions that I don't have the answers too, but I"m hoping this time of fast and working through the 7 book will help me get closer to what that looks like for my life.
Biblically, there are five main reasons for fasting:
For me, the reason I'm fasting from coffee this Lenten season is for Repentance and Worship. I'm using this time to maybe identify those things that have become idols in my life.
Let me clarify- coffee is not an idol.
As much as I LOVE coffee, I don't WORSHIP it.
However, I do spend time and money obtaining coffee. Could that $5-6 a day be spent better elsewhere? You betcha. Could I use that time during my routine for something more spirit-focused? Definitely.
For instance, I normally wake up and immediately start drinking coffee. Seriously.
Like...I roll out of bed pulling on glasses, shuffle to the bathroom for a quick potty and then to the kitchen for a drink of water while either brewing a pot of coffee or heating up a cup from yesterday's pot (don't get crazy on my coffee snobs that need fresh brews everyday- I don't have that kind of money, time or equipment).
The first week of Lent, I made hot tea because I didn't know what to do with myself in the morning- I was so used to doing 'coffee' things. After a couple days, I decided to really use that time for reflection. Instead of making hot tea (a routine similar to making coffee), I pull on my glasses, grab my Bible and my Ipad and do my devotional reading for the morning before I even exit the bed.
I really love this change to my routine. I have more time to focus on the reading, the devotional questions and prayer. I used to read my She Reads Truth while scarfing breakfast, post-workout, pre-shower, most likely running late. More often than not, my devotional time was not very focused and lacked enough time for reflection.
This quiet morning time with the Word has been transformative for my soul. I feel more relaxed and ready to start my day. I feel more connected to God. I've even started praying out loud during that time.
This may not be a big deal, but to me- it's huge. I normally don't feel comfortable praying out loud in our small group or with others, but you only get better at things with practice, right?
I suspect even when Lent is over, that part of my morning routine will stay the same- but maybe will include a cup of joe. :)
For the first month of 7, Jen and her family fasted about food. They gave up coffee for the entire MONTH. They also ate only 7 foods for the entire month: chicken, eggs, spinach, avocado, apples, sweet potatoes and wheat bread.
When I watched the video segment for this part of the series, I didn't feel as engaged.
In fact, I felt sort of turned off by the video. I'm not sure what it was, but it didn't speak to me.
So I put the study guide down and pretty much ignored it for a couple weeks, deciding to jump on the women's group schedule for the experiment versus the blogger schedule. I was hoping that hearing how other women in my church community were doing with the book would encourage me to get involved.
And I'll admit...giving up food seemed really hard to me.
I'm a foodie.
I like to cook. I like to shop for food. I like to bake. I like to try new things.
The idea of sticking to 7 foods for any period of time, even a day seemed just UGH to me.
I feel like a complete jerk even saying that.
But it's true.
Instead, I decided maybe I wasn't connecting because the study guide doesn't give all the details of Jen's fast. It gives a few tidbits but is more of a guided study versus her first account narrative of her experience.
I went out to Amazon and bought her paperback book.
That was last week.
It came on Thursday night and I finished it by Tuesday evening.
I couldn't put it down.
Her diary of The 7 Experiment clicked with me.
In a big way.
So, I revisited the food chapter sans the video and it's been much more engaging for me.
I talked with my friend Mandy about the study guide questions and she mentioned that she thought about what her seven foods would be. So I made my own list:
- peanut butter
- sweet potatoes
I had just gone to the store and planned meals for the next couple week so I will not be eating only 7 foods for the next two weeks.
However, I did make some food goals- some areas I need to work on:
- No sweets- that is no desserts of any kind- cookies, cake, ice cream and the like
- No grocery shopping unless it's one of the 7 foods on my list. My thought being most of those things are perishable so I will run out- otherwise I have plenty of food in my cupboards I can incorporate with these fresh items to make meals. (I'm thinking this could go on longer than 2 weeks. Between my fridge and cupboards I counted 154 items. WAY more than I thought I had.)
- Also, I'd like to pick at least 2 days during that 2 weeks where I eat only 2 meals of rice and veggies as an homage to the many who go without.
I'll be honest.
I'm sitting in one of my favorite coffee shops right now drinking a chocolate chai (no espresso!) wondering if chocolate chai should count as a 'dessert' and it's only Day 1 of this food fast.
Fasting from food is weird for me.
I have so many emotions and feelings mixed up in what I eat.
Even the thought of putting restrictions around it gives me a little anxiety.
For some people, this would not be hard.
For someone who has had their fair share of 'issues' with food (high school eating disorder, subsequent weight loss and gain, yo-yo dieting, over-exercising, just now barely finding a happy balance...), it's scary to let go of that control. Really scary.
But, the more I think about it, the more I pray about it...isn't that what fasting is all about?
Letting 'me' go, so I can let Him in?
You can come a hot mess like we all are, but come for Jesus. Come for transformation. Come for worship. Come humble and honest, open and listening.
(Jen Hatmaker, The 7 Experiment: Staging Your Own Mutiny, p 26)
Have you ever fasted from something before?
Are you currently fasting for Lent? If so, what are you giving up?
If you have read 7, does it make you want to move to Austin, TX? I do.