Our church is teaching us to live out Jesus' command to take care of the poor in our world. As part of that, they have challenged us to live as the poor and hungry in our world live for just five days.
So this morning we all had a small bowl of unflavored oatmeal for breakfast. Eric and the girls took plastic containers of rice and beans with them for their lunches. No seasoning. No brown sugar or milk on the oatmeal. No cilantro or hot sauce to spice up the rice and beans. And nothing but water to drink. The dull ache in my head is telling me that's going to be the hardest part for me. That green tea I like to drink must have just enough caffeine to keep those aches at bay.
So I thought it would be good to share our progress. Our thoughts. What is hardest. And what we learn. Do we turn to God when we're tempted to add some sweetener to our oatmeal? Do we seek Him when we want to reach for that banana that looks so yummy on the counter? Do we think of His words, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me" when we really want that glass of wine in the evening (oops, that's just me)?
So it's Monday morning. The oatmeal didn't go down very well for the girls. Catharine just chose to skip breakfast. Wonder if she'll make that choice tomorrow when she wakes up hungry. Anna ate most of hers. Eric, who doesn't like any kind of oatmeal, didn't mind it as much as he thought he would. And me? Well, I had breakfast with one of our college girls. I ordered plain oatmeal. Sent the toppings he brought back to the kitchen. I only ate half of it because restaurant portions are always way too big. And I really focused on the young woman I was sitting with instead of what I was eating. Though I admit to eyeing her pumpkin pancakes with a little envy.
By now Catharine has finished lunch. Wonder how it went. I wonder if anyone asked her why she was eating beans and rice for lunch. And what did she say? Did people ask Anna questions? Was she able to share with them her heart? Can't wait to hear how their days went.
For Eric it will be easy. I've never met another person with so much self control. More than a dozen years ago he decided to stop drinking alcohol. He just felt like he was struggling to limit his consumption. And maybe he wasn't really himself when he drank. Then about six years ago he realized he was drinking about six diet Cokes a day. So he gave that up too. Later it was gum. He chewed it constantly. So he gave that up too. Someone recently asked me what would happen if he became addicted to me...
For me it's a battle of self-control. Everyone who has ever seen me, let alone knows me, knows what a struggle this is for me. I've been overweight since late in my freshman year of high school. Not sure what triggered it. My Dad (okay, he was my stepdad, but always felt more like the real thing than my biological dad) was diagnosed with cancer that year. It's definitely in my genetics. I could write for hours about this struggle but it's not about me.
Instead, I'm going to focus not on my own lack of self-control, but rather on the suffering that so many experience because they just don't have food. And I'm going to drink lots of water, even though that is in short supply too. I'm going to ask God to make the pangs in my belly go away. I'm going to try to fill my time with things that fill my soul...and hope that the Spirit will help me through the rest. I'm going to try to set a good example for my children. I'm going to do this joyfully knowing that for me this fast ends on Friday...and for so many they have no idea if it will ever end.