Monday, April 2, 2012

fasting from my excess vs. fasting from my need

This is not the kind of fast I would normally do.

That's what I told my husband last night, at the end of day 1 of the Hungry for Change fast we are doing with our church. It took me a while to figure out what I meant by that, but what it comes down to is this: I'm willing to fast from my excess, but not from my need.

In terms of money, it's nothing new to talk about giving sacrificially (from our need) vs. giving from our excess. Jesus himself laid the groundwork for this with the story of the poor woman who gives her two coins at the temple (Mark 12:41-44, Luke 21:1-4):

"Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on."

To be honest, I am not a good money-giver. I do not give money sacrificially to the Church (or anywhere else, separately or combined). I don't even give that famed 10% figure. I do give a greater fraction than I did 2 years ago, which was more than I was giving 2 years before that. I am not worried yet about giving sacrificially because I'm still working on giving from my excess, and I can tell myself I am consistently improving.

Fasting is different. I consider myself a pretty hard-core Lenten faster/"abstainer". While I've had some cop-out years, I've also given up some pretty challenging things for Lent. Meat. Dessert. Once I gave up everything with discernible sugar added -- desserts, sugared drinks, baked beans, almost anything anyone ever puts out at a "continental breakfast"...

However, as I think back on it, I have never fasted from my need. I have always fasted from my excess.

So. This will be good for me. I won't just be trying to teach myself some good habit, some way that I should always be living but seems more manageable if I only have to do it for 40 days. It won't just be an abstention. It'll be my first real sacrificial fast. I'm excited to see where it takes me spiritually.