Confession time: I hate fasting. I am terrible at it. I get grumpy and hangry, and generally unpleasant to be around. I am not really participating in it this Lenten season anyway because of pregnancy, but I am adhering to it as much as I can. And it is hard. Our wonderful Pastor wrote an article in the bulletin a couple weeks ago about how to better incorporate fasting into our Lent. However, he was not talking about just fasting from food or sweets, but from behaviors and bad habits. I began thinking about how I could become more willing, and holy, through fasting.
He gave wonderful suggestions like “Fast from anger, and Feast on patience” and “Fast from negatives, and Feast on positives.” I loved these little suggestions! I started to think about ways that I could fast and feast this Lent. I started to think about how I talk to myself, the voice in my head. I found that I could be really unkind to myself. I am my worst critic. And believe me, I like and love myself, and I can still be SO MEAN to myself. I am hard on myself as a mom, constantly thinking and rethinking if my actions towards my children are right, did I correct them in love? Am I the best mother for these children? I am hard on myself as a Catholic. Am I really trying to be holy? Can God really love me as I am? I am hard on myself as a wife. I wish dinner tasted better. Why can’t I be more loving like so and so? That inner voice can be so harsh and unforgiving. Does any of this resonate with you?
We can be so hard on ourselves, and that voice in our head can be SO MEAN. Maybe its body image, or ways that you perceive you are failing. Maybe you are constantly comparing yourself to the moms in your play group and always coming up short. Maybe the fasting we are being called to is fasting from self loathing, self doubt, self hatred, negative self talk, or self deprecation. I think the Lord wants to shine a light on those dark places in our hearts and heal every wound this Lent.
This does not mean that I don’t think the fasting required by the Church is not important. IT IS! I am definitely not discrediting that in any way. But on the other days of Lent, when fasting from certain foods is not required, perhaps we can add this other form of fasting as a way to grow in holiness and self awareness.
I am praying for you. Please pray for me! This practice is hard for me, and I am excited to grow in holiness through fasting.
Feel free to share your own journey with fasting and how you are doing it this Lent.