Sunday, August 3, 2008

Fasting


A gastronomical feast waiting for housewarming guests

The first Sunday of the month in our church is called "Fast Sunday." Those who are medically able go without food or drink for 24 hours and then give the money they would have used on that food and drink as an offering. These funds are distributed by bishops around the world to feed the hungry and provide for those who are needy. They are separate from tithing funds which pay for the buildings and temples and the "bills" to run the church itself. Fast offerings are specifically earmarked to go to those in need.

I learned about this system when I was a small child. I think it makes great sense. It is a very practical way to provide for those who are unable to provide for themselves. And each month I have done my part fasting and donating to help those in need. 

Other times in my life I have fasted for a different purpose. I have traded my gastronomical feasting for spiritual feasting. I have fasted to draw closer to the Lord and gain spiritual strength and understanding. I am not sure how the laws of science would explain the effects of fasting. But fasting does have a positive spiritually empowering effect on me. 

Coupling the fasting with scripture study and prayer fills the soul with a well appreciated spiritual feast. The spiritual hunger pains are satisfied and new understanding and enlightenment can grow. 

A very few times in my life I have felt I was losing it. I am not sure what "it" is but I have been close to losing "it" a few times. Those times I have fasted long and hard with a spirit seeking the strength to survive. Each time I have found what I sought. Recently, I have been fasting ... more frequently.

There is something about depriving your physical self of something it greatly wants that strengthens the spirit within. It is a ceding of control to the spiritual rather than the physical.

I love the strength I feel towards the end of my fast when I have overcome the hunger pains and feel totally in control of my own being. I feel as if I can overcome the sorrow. I feel as if the pain in my chest will subside just as the hunger pains did. I feel closer to the Lord and more receptive to His love and His teachings. I feel closer to my sweet Camille. I feel strong. I feel clean. I feel ... happy. 

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Stephanie usually when I read your blog I feel as others do - spiritually uplifted and motivated to become better. You are a great example to all of us and I'm sure so many of us have learned to love you even though we do not know you.
Today though I am feeling a little inadequate and I wonder how I can ever achieve the spirituality you have achieved. I have a testimony the same as you do, but as I compare my life to yours I see all the things I'm not doing, and I wonder if I can ever catch up. You have experienced a terrible loss, and yet you seem to be such a pillar of strength and fortitude. How can I learn to be as diligent in my spiritual development, so when I feel I am losing "it" I can find the peace you have found?

Shanan said...

You are definitely right - fasting is such a unique opportunity that allows us to receive inspiration and strength and feel closer to our Father in Heaven. I have a very strong testimony of this principle. You are a symbol of strength, Steph. Thank you!
Much love - Shanan

Jonathan Waite said...

Dear anonymous,
Contrary to the popular opinion of many commenters, my wife is not perfect. She has plenty of flaws, otherwise why would she have married me??

Char said...

As usual, I'm totally uplifted by your post. Even as a life long member of your church, your post helped me to gain an insight and even a desire into being better on Fast Sunday. In a way, it's like your words were an answer to a specific problem behavior that's been plaging me for years. Thank you! Thank you for being an angel to me nearly every day with your amazing words.

Lindsay said...

I love this blog. You do a very good job of putting your thoughts, feelings, and ideas into words. You have said it is cathartic for you to write. Well, it is cathartic to read your posts. I am truly sorry for your loss. This blog is a blessing for you and all its readers.

A thought for anonymous: I don't think we need to feel discouraged about spirituality. As long as we are progressing, we can feel hopeful and be happy with who we are becoming. We can constantly repent, try to be better, and head in the right direction. Afterall, that is all the Lord asks of us. We will not all be at the same place spiritually after we pass on, but the atonement will make up the difference.

We do not have to compare ourselves with where someone else is at and feel down. Instead we can look at their example and literally look at what they do and how they live and try that for ourselves. We can be inspired and still be happy with our own little progress! I admit this is easier said than done :).

Heidi said...

I loved your last paragraph. Beautifully written.

(And thank you for your very kind comment on my blog a couple days ago).

e said...

you, jonathan and the girls were in the forefront of my mind during my fast today. hearing you say "...happy" is an answer to my prayers. perfect or imperfect, I love you!!

Farnsworth Family said...

Just wanted you to know I am thinking of you today and your words have meant alot to me. I have been having one of "those" days. I like to call it a self-pity party day and needed a pick me up. Thanks for delivering it!
I am going through different experiences than others who have posted about the loss of a loved one. Mine is the fact I haven't been able to get pregnant again. I have been blessed with 2 beautiful, smart little girls, and for some reason, after almost 3 years of trying, we have been unsuccessful. Everyone tells me I should be happy with what I have, but I feel a part of my heart is missing. This struggle causes me sadness and has, at times, made me feel like I have lost part of who I am. A different type of grief, but grief still the same.
Thank you for your words of encouragement! Thank you for your testimony! Thank you for sharing your experience with so many people!

Jonathan and Rachel said...

Thanks for the great testimony of fasting -- one that I wish all could hear and KNOW like you know the blessing that fasting and fast offerings bring!

Marleen said...

The spirit of fasting has such an amazing ability to consume the hunger within and replace it with what the soul needs. I miss fasting when I am nursing or pregnant. Just recently I was able to start fasting again. I feel I am a little rusty at it. Focusing has been hard for me. Your testimony of fasting is beautiful. I am so grateful the Lord is aware and attending you, Jonathan and the girls in the way you need it.

MaryClaire said...

ditto to it all. it's only recently that i've been able to really completely fast again and feel the blessings that come as a result. after having 2 kids so close together, i'm grateful to be able to really submit myself not just spiritually, but physically to him.

today, especially was an important and meaningful fast. thinking of you and especially my brother and his wife who just found out some really hard news about the baby growing inside her.

i love that your last word of this post was "happy".

Anonymous said...

Stephanie -
I wish to remain anonymous just because, however, please know that you are in my heart and my prayers always.
Love . . . and prayers.

Karsen said...

Fasting for you and your family again today; fasting for me to be more like you (in all the good ways, of course, Jonathan!); fasting because there is always need to improve, and always need for power from on high. Love you!

Rachel said...

Until I recently weaned my youngest, I'd been pregnant or nursing for almost ten years, so I've only been fasting for the last few months. Before I started having kids, I never got the spirit of fasting, I was always just cranky from lack of food. I'm better at it now, but your post has really given me so much more understanding and insight into fasting. That last paragraph was beautifully put, and I'm grateful to you again, inspiring me to become closer to my Heavenly Father.
Rachel Merrill

Kathryn said...

Loved this entry, Steph. Years ago I cut out the following poem on fasting from the Ensign. I thought of it while I was reading your post so you might enjoy it.

Fast Sunday
By Lisa Bolin Hawkins

This Sabbath, I am prism-full of light.
A Spirit-fire projects my facets there:
Mary listening, Martha laboring,
Sarah trembling, Elizabeth rejoicing,
Mary sorrowing, Eve remembering.

All these in me, yet burning only I
As all our lives are mirrored back and forth
And all lights touch and know their flaming source.

Still gray tomorrow comes, with shameless haste,
And, cumbered by the world cares, the fires dim,

To be awakened yet again, again,
Until, enduring, clouded prism-souls,
Now filled with light, find Thy reality--
A sea of glass, an everlasting fire--

Praising Thee.

Love you...

Megan said...

Stephanie, I found your blog through a friend and have been uplifted by your messages. My family lost my little brother Matthew 12 years ago. I sometimes find myself thinking what he would be like now at age 14. My mom often compares this loss in our family to fasting. We know that we will be together as a family again. My parents will be able to raise my sweet brother. But now it is difficult. Now we are are going without "food". The "feast" at the end of this fast seems so far away. When it comes, how wonderful will it be! May you feel the peace of our Heavenly Father during this difficult time.
Megan

Sarah and Matt said...

I am one of those strangers that has found your blog through that of another. I am a close friend of Liz Smith and your blog is listed on hers. I first visited your blog several months ago and noted how beautiful your girls were. I loved the blog with Camille in the drawer. She looked so sweet in her little spot.

The last time I visited your blog was when you posted about your new couch pillows and how you were matching them to Camille's blue eyes. I thought how sweet that was and that she would love to hear that story when she was a bit older. I was heartbroken when I checked in on you guys again tonight. I immediately noticed Camille's picture on the side with the dates of her life. My heart ached and I began searching your older posts to see what happened. I have spent hours reading of the sorrow that has swept over your family and I have cried and prayed and cried some more. I have also taken frequent breaks to sneak into my sleeping children's rooms and softly touch their cheeks, lay down beside them, kiss their foreheads or simply watch them sleep. Thank you for that.

I enjoyed your blog today about your Fast meeting. I had a very sweet experience today that brought me closer to my Father in heaven as well as my sweet children. Especially my daughter Piper. I blogged about it after reading a your blog for a while because I felt like I needed to share my experience with someone else. That maybe they would get out of it some of which I have been able to take from your writings.

I am awed by your strength and your unwavering love for your family, both here on earth as well as in heaven. I will keep you, Jon, Sabrina, Annie, Lauren and Camille in my prayers.

Peace, peace, peace

Rhonda said...

Great post.

We had a wonderful conversation on the fasting and tithing, etc. with our neighbors last night. Everything you mention here on fasting is exactly what we were able to share with people we love, our neighbors. They were stunned at Elijah's (9 years) ability to have that kind of faith and strength to fast his two meals. Not always easy for him, but he's getting there.

I am always uplifted by your words and visit everyday to get my does of A Daily Scoop. Of course I lurked occasionally before Camille's passing and now come by daily. Found you via your SIL Darleen.

Thanks for sharing everyday.

Melissa said...

Hi Stephanie, I found your blog the other day through Heidi's blog. I have been touched and inspired by reading of your journey through heartache. I just wanted to let you know that you have forever changed me with something you said in an earlier post. First, I guess I should introduce myself better. Like you I am LDS. My hubby and I are the parents of three young children, two boys (6 and 4) and a little girl, 17 months. Hubby is the young Bishop of our ward. Even though I sit by another family who helps me a lot, Sacrament meetings are still very challenging, particularly with my youngest, since she is a little wiggle-worm (and very clingy!). Anyway, a few weeks ago, you said that you missed wrestling your precious Camille during sacrament meeting. I read that on Saturday night and that phrase stayed in my mind. Sunday morning and Sacrament Meeting came and my little girl was more wiggly than EVER. But you know what? Because of what you wrote, I felt grateful, instead of frustrated or overwhelmed. Grateful that Heavenly Father has entrusted me with these precious children, and grateful that I could hold and cuddle and even wrestle my darling daughter. So thank you, THANK YOU for sharing your life and your sorrows and testimony with us. May Heavenly Father continue to bless you and your family with strength and courage.
Love,
~Melissa

noorda notebook said...

so inspiring. thanks, steph.

prosserdd said...

Stephanie, I just read your blog through to June 10th. My daughter-in-law has it posted on her blog. We have a 22 month old granddaughter. We also have an in ground pool and a hot tub. I pray that we areo dong averything we can to keep her safe. Honestly, I unually don't have a great deal of fear around these two items of water as compared to a lake, etc. I'm petty comfortable having kids in the pool or hot tub. Although I am especialy careful with our graddaughter, Sklyer. I know if anything were to happen to her I would have to be accountable to her parents and I never want to be responsible for any harm coming to her. After reading your blog I will be consciously alert and watchful at all times when someone is in the pool or hot tub. I too am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. Our first child was stillborn. This was before we joined the Church. We too are grateful to know that we will be an eternal family if we live righteously and can join him in the Celestial Kingdom.
I have known two men that have almost died in an accident. When you talk to them they have such an appreciation and a love of life. I also see that in the words of your blog. This is something I would like to have. But I don't want to experience the loss or near loss of a loved one in order to appreciate this love and appreciation for life.
I too admire your senior missionary companion. It took special parents for Camille to become that special missionary companion.

Stacy said...

I found your blog through a friends and I am so thankful that yours is not private. It makes me want to take mine off private so I can be a pillar of strength to others just like you are. I love your posts and your words. Wow! I hate suffereing in life, but I understand it, I think! Thank you so much for being able to write about your loss. Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for not losing hope like so many do. Never, never lose your faith. Thanks again for everything. I want to share your words with everyone!

annie said...

I love the idea of monthly fasting. It's amazing how your mind is so open to God when you deny your physical hunger, even for a short time.
Blessings to you.

jayna said...

A friendly local blog stalker here...I've been so touched by your story. Thank you for sharing it so publicly. I'm preparing a talk on fasting this week, and your post will probably get quoted in a portion if that's alright with you. Great insights. Amazing courage...we are all learning from your story.