Digesting the Daniel Fast

17 Jan

DanielfastI cheated. Yep. I’ll admit it. Monday, Jan. 4 was the first of a 21-day fast limiting my diet to only things that come from the ground. No meat. No dairy. Nothing “pleasurable.” That first day, after ordering a very sad chopped salad from Subway, I raced home and grabbed a handful of cookies.

Tuesday I was better prepared: a container with garlicky chickpeas and swiss chard, another with kidney beans and couscous. Until a tow yard dispatcher literally placed a steaming hot cup of hot cocoa in my hands. You see it was a bitter cold morning. Normally, in my double life as an auto damage adjuster, I wait outside and simply slip the teller my id under a tinted glass.

“It’s so cold out there, come on in,” the woman’s cheery voice piped over the intercom. Never have I ever. Ha. Once inside, she emerged with a steaming Styrofoam cup. Before I could even think to so no, I was cradling it within my fingertips.

Wednesday, I had my banana-peanut butter sandwiches. I popped into Subway and got soooo excited when I saw they had veggie patties. “No cheese,” I solemnly asked before I swiped my giftcard, Less than a dollar remained on the balance. “You can get a cookie,” the worker offered. An oatmeal cookie and peanut butter cookie later, I headed home, swearing to be more disciplined from then on.

And so it went. I’ve stumbled a few more times. I had salmon and a margarita when a college friend came to town on Friday and a chicken pot pie from Kentucky Fried Chicken after an intense workout left me famished.

But I’ve had successes too. Like learning that spinach and avocado sandwiches actually are good and that a kale, sweet potato, black bean quesadilla minus the queso is pretty amazing, My body feels great. Well, I feel hungry most of the time and find myself always snacking on a fruit, nuts or veggie in between meals. But also I feel like nothing is impossible.

Along with abstaining from certain foods, the fast calls for daily meditation, prayer and scripture. Now, I’m no saint. Anyone who knows me knows that. But I’ve really enjoyed reading John. I normally prefer the King James version with its “thus’s’” and ‘”verily’s:”

That’s what I grew up reading. And it’s absolutely beautiful. But the New International Version has helped me break down things I missed or never really noticed. Like how people were constantly trying to decide whether Jesus was absolutely nuts or the Mesiah.

Last Sunday, before the sermon, the congregation was asked what we’ve learned so far from the fast. At the time I didn’t have the words. A week later I know the perfect one: grace. My failings to abstain from eating foods on the bad list completely didn’t discourage me from continuing to try. I always knew that tomorrow was a fresh start.

Likewise, our mistakes in life don’t make us forever failures. The next day, hour, minute we get a fresh start, another chance after chance to make our tomorrows better than our yesterdays.

Thank God for that.

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