January Fast: Spending

During the year of 2014, Theo and I have picked something different to fast from each month. I am recording this journey in my journal, but I also wanted to record some of it on my blog, both for myself, and for any readers who may be interested or curious about fasting themselves. This is halfway through January, so I am writing an update about where we are right now. At the end of January, I will do another update, and so on and so forth throughout the year. Sorry this post doesn’t have any pictures!

Fasting is a tricky thing. When we fast, we are supposed to be humbling ourselves before an Almighty God and growing closer to Him through the process. However, I always run the risk of making it about me and what I have “accomplished”. Fasting can either bring about pride, or humility.

Right now, unfortunately, I have been finding myself in the pride camp. Well, that is when I am thinking about this fasting thing at all. Today in my devotions God really spoke to me about how it’s NOT about me. It’s not about accomplishing each month with a clean track record and a successful fast.

Instead, it’s about saying, “God, I’m giving this up. Not so I can brag, or blog, or journal about it and show my grandkids one day. I’m giving this up so that their will be a hole in me. There will be something missing, something that I long for. And when I long for THAT thing, I will instead turn to You and let You fill that hole. And through that process, I will grow closer to You, and hopefully, learn to let go of earthly treasures.”

Fasting is hard. And the longer it goes, the harder it gets.

For January, we decided to fast from spending. Obviously, as responsible adults who need to eat and pay bills, it would be almost impossible to not spend ANY money for a month. So we decided that we would allow spending in three areas: groceries, bills and gas. As for groceries, we agreed to only buy from Aldi. That does limit us some, as Aldi does not always have everything we are looking for. So far, this has been very challenging. We have run into so many situations where Theo and I look at each other and say, ‘We need this. But….we aren’t spending money.” For example, windshield wipers. We need them. But we aren’t spending money. Sooo, we have to weigh which is more important: my safety driving, or sticking with the fast (I think you can probably guess which one we chose). Or, Theo needs new work shoes. The sole on his shoe randomly popped off. He has to wear black shoes, and he prefers to wear boots as he may be transporting a patient through parking lots, hospitals, grass, carpet, etc. So do we buy the much needed shoes, or do we go without for the rest of the month and Theo wears his black (and blue) tennis shoes? Ah, dilemma. Or what about gift cards? Can we go out to eat with a gift card? Technically, we aren’t SPENDING money, but we are enjoying the fruits of spending.

And then it all comes back to what I was saying in the beginning….am I not spending the money because I feel like I am accomplishing something, or because I am fully relying on God to fill that longing to spend/buy/have that item.

And baby stuff. Oh, I die. This month has been so good for me in holding off on baby stuff and random food cravings. I cannot tell you how many times I have almost stopped just to look at those little onsie’s, but instead remembered to turn my longings over to God.

This month has so far showed me that I am a failure. Yes, that is what it has taught me. Is that useful information? In the way of the world, no, it’s not. Why would you want to learn that you are a failure? Well, I now know that it is necessary to know that I am a failure in order to go through a month, or a year of fasting.

God is teaching us so much. He is starting with hearts that have no clue what they are getting into this year. He is starting with hearts that are filled with pride, and that are leaning on their own strength to get through this year of fasting. And what’s awesome is that I know he is going to do amazing things with those hearts. I continue to pray that he will change my heart from one of pride, to one of humility and complete reliance on Him. Will that be extremely difficult? Yes, it will, I have no doubt.

So, in conclusion, a couple things about this month so far:

1. We have broken our “rules”. We have bough groceries at Wal-mart (a couple times, actually). We have bought several books on Amazon that Theo needed for a class. We bought some tools to finally fix the windshield wipers on my car. We have NOT saved any more money than we would have if we weren’t fasting. But it’s not about saving money vs. spending money. It’s about our hearts. That was something that I had to really let go of, as I’m such a rule follower. I like rules, they keep me safe. But it’s not about the rules, it’s about the heart.

2. Fasting is a challenge between pride and humility. I’m only just realizing how prideful I am, and I have a long way to go.

3. Fasting is not, and should not be easy.