Yesterday’s post about the 7 Bible study by Jen Hatmaker was a little scattered. I only had one paragraph written before Jack woke up and the rest was written while watching The Cat in the Hat. As our group of 15-40 women went through the study, each week a few of us would share our stories of the fast we did and how it affected us. Here is my story from Week 1: Food.
A few months ago I did the beginning of this study at my church. When I read the book 7 over a year ago, I told everyone I knew about it because I knew if others didn’t read it and know about it, then I wouldn’t make changes in my own life. I knew I needed accountability. So when I saw that my church was doing the 7 Bible study, I signed up. It was only a group of about 8 women, none who I knew. But as we sat around the table preparing for the food fast, everyone shared what they were doing… but very negatively. They’d say “I could never give up coffee or my diet coke…. There’s no way I could go a day without sugar.” As they talked, all I could think was “Yes you can go without it! The power of the living God dwells inside you! Of course you can give things up with God’s help and for His purposes!” But since I didn’t really know these people, I decided not to go off preaching at them.
Determined myself to give up caffeine, grocery shopping, junk food, fast food, and just to eat healthy, I decided to begin right away. I made it about 3 hours without caffeine and decided to start tomorrow. That next day I made it all day but my head was pounding so much from caffeine withdrawal that I couldn’t stand it anymore and decided I’d do this food fast some other time. Haha! Then 7 was picked to be our summer study so I knew I’d have another chance.
I knew this food fast was coming and I should’ve tapered off caffeine like Jen Hatmaker said in her book, but that didn’t happen. Although some of you gave up tons of things, or only ate 7 foods for the week, I determined to just give up caffeine. That would be hard enough for me.
The first day I was out for lunch and automatically got a diet pepsi, took a sip, and then realized I wasn’t supposed to have it, so I threw it out. Day two, my son Jack and I were at my parents’ house for lunch. My mom started asking what was wrong with me, and I said nothing. But she persevered, the way moms do when they think something is going on. So finally I said, “I gave up caffeine for the 7 study, ok, and I have a headache but that’s all.” My mom, ever so encouraging, “Oh why don’t you just drink caffeine already. You’re so grumpy! I’m glad I’m not doing that study!” And then a little later when we were leaving, my mom looked at Jack and said “good luck with her this afternoon Jack!” Clearly my attitude wasn’t very good. I was grumpy and tired and had a headache.
Day 3 the headache was gone. Day 4 also a success. But Day 5 was Jack’s 2nd birthday and we had 40 family members coming over to celebrate, and so I stopped the fast and picked up caffeine. I did feel very successful that I made it 4 full days of willingly choosing not to drink caffeine. I quit caffeine when I was pregnant and that wasn’t hard at all because I felt like there was an important purpose in it in keeping the baby safe. But these last few weeks when it just comes down to my choice – my self-discipline – it’s a lot harder.
I learned that I want what I want when I want it. I lean on caffeine in ways I should only lean on God. The last few nights Jack was up during the night sick and I was so tired at night, but my first thought was that it’d be ok because I could have caffeine in the morning, when that thought should be about the Lord sustaining me and giving me all I need.
Despite my shortcomings, and only doing a 4 day caffeine fast, I felt like the Lord blessed my obedience. A few things happened that I attribute to God blessing this fast.
- I was asked to lead music one week at a church I used to attend.
- For a couple weeks I had fluid in my ears and couldn’t hear out of my right ear. I also found out I had 3 ear infections [yes, I only have 2 ears] – one in the left ear, and an inner and outer infection in my right ear. During the fast I went back to the doctor and in only a week all the infections had cleared up. I still had fluid but that continued to dissipate and my hearing got much better. The doctor was surprised I was doing so much better in a short time.
- I felt like the Lord opened my eyes to seeing some things more how He sees them, especially in regards to clothing and possessions which are the next chapters in our study.
- I also noticed that some of the things I tend to struggle with in how I think, I didn’t struggle with at all while I was fasting from caffeine. I think my mind was too busy focusing on not drinking caffeine, but staying awake, and trying not to be grumpy.
- I also started a Kiva.com account and set up a couple loans and I’m looking forward to seeing how that works and learning more about how I can help others in simple ways like that.
Although I am drinking caffeine again, I am more aware of my thoughts about it and dependence on it. God is bringing to my attention the times I reach for caffeine for comfort or strength, and how instead I should be reaching to Him. That is something I will continue to work on, and probably will be true in some of these chapters coming up – that I turn to other things instead of turning to God. While I feel like I’ve had some breakthroughs in recognizing my weaknesses, I know it will be a process in learning to turn to God first and completely depending on Him.