Most mom's posted ADORABLE pictures of their kids' back-to-school day this week. (Dillon's teacher took this one.👆) Their kids looked clean, bright and shiny in their bustling, back-to-school excitement. I, however, shouted a special, "Have a good first day!" from my bed as my children walked themselves to the bus. (Don't worry...Matt was, at least, awake for their first day adventures!)
I've given up on trying to be the typical "everything" Mom. I've never really been a "typical" kind of gal. (And I certainly NEVER claimed to be a morning person!) But...I have other things to offer 😉...so I have also given up on feeling guilty about the things that just don't come naturally to me...like shopping and decorating for holidays and being completely prepared for the first day of school. (I just can't seem to get the hang of advanced planning! And, by advanced, I kind of mean more than the day before.)
Fortunately for my kids, Matt did get up, make lunches, spiff up the boy's hair and see them all happily out the door. It's kind of his thing. Unfortunately, he informed me today that I would be "on morning duty" during his scheduled work days once I graduate from my Master's in Counseling program (which happens to be this May...if all goes well!!). As of right now, Matt gets everything ready for us in the morning, so I can just roll out of bed and supervise.
I took on a 40 day liquid fast for that one. I should clarify, I am no saint. I am probably at the top of the list of people who stink at this self-denial thing. BUT...I am the MASTER at making things work for me. I started by being honest with myself: If I try to give up Coke, I'm def gonna fail. I will get in the heat of some stressful moment, and I will think "naughty word, this is NOT worth it," and I will give in and break fast.
So, I figured the only way I could complete a fast is to figure out something I could fast. I decided to call it a liquid fast, and I didn't ingest anything that required chewing. Yes, toward the end of the fast, I was bending the rules quite a bit. (I will never forget the moment my blessed niece told me about the peanut butter shakes from Sonic...just when I was about to lose my mind on V8 Splash and soup!) But, yes...I STILL call that fasting. Because I DID find a few things with which to treat myself, but I was still facing, every day...multiple times a day...self-denial. "Ohhhhhh...I would love to annihilate that cheese pizza, but...I'm fasting." Take a drink. "Italian food is my FAVORITE! I'll have a Coke." "Ok. Is that FOR REAL garlic alfredo cheese bread?!! Let me smell it. Ahhhhhhhh."
There is something so good about self denial. Do you ever say no to something you really, really desire? We don't seem to do it that much. I mean, I get it. It's definitely not a party to experience intense, unfulfilled want. It aches...literally. There were times I would go to sleep, and my stomach would rumble, and I would feel sorry for myself. (#perspective...I know.) It's probably not a bad thing to practice out not getting what I want, because there are times when I just don't have a choice. Fasting gives me a chance to practice coping through want.
After the last four painful years, I am just so grateful to be at a point where I feel like I need a little reminder of discomfort. We have finally managed to break free of the tragedy hurricane and step into a moment of peace. So why did I chose now to fast? It was only 4 days, and I think it was my response to my own anxiety for the upcoming year. I'm going to be working a full time job while completing 20 hours a week for an internship (and a bit of classwork on top of that!)...and on top of my already demanding Mom role.
I am afraid. I am very afraid. I have so enjoyed the comfort of the last few weeks...having just enough to do to keep me from being bored but not overwhelmed. I am terrified of being burned out and overwhelmed over the next few months.
So, I fasted. I fasted and, every time my body started to ache and crave, I remember to pray. And as I prayed, I remembered, God's got this. I fasted and remembered just how grateful I am for the food we so often take for granted. I fasted and thought, "Man, I have been through a lot in these 40 years. This is nothing!" I fasted and told myself..."Hope is just around the corner. It's not always going to be like this." I fasted and appreciated, because boy that is one of the best things about fasting...Appreciation. We ALWAYS tend to appreciate things more when we don't have them. And, then...when we finally do...
So, I don't frown at self-denial, and I don't shy away from discomfort, because I have learned that some of life's greatest rewards are the fruits of such experiences. And sometimes, I feel inclined to take on a little fast, if for nothing else, to remind myself what it feels like to want.