I am in the middle, literally, of a 21 day fast. This is day 10, and the first week was okay. Then this week the Lord put it on my heart to hunker down a bit more and do a cleansing fast. I'll be honest and tell you I fought this. This was not my idea of a good idea. It didn't even rank on my "Let's Consider" list. The idea of veggies and water and nothing else wasn't appealing, but God nagged, and in the end, I gave in. So here I am on day 4 of my cleansing fast, and I have a glimpse of why we are doing this.
First of all, I say "we" because I couldn't do this alone. Truly, my will is not this strong. I like sugar. Who am I kidding? I would like a piece of rolled up turkey right now, but it isn't about what I like. It's about what I need, and from all indications, I need to fast.
My need to fast for different reasons. Physically, I had no clue what I was in for. I once read an interview with Dolly Parton, and she talked about fasting and how it was miserable and she felt awful as the toxins were drained from her body. I didn't know what she meant. I've fasted all food with only water to drink for three days, and mentally it was a challenge, but I wasn't "miserable". I had a caffeine headache one time, but "miserable"? Nope. Can't say fasting has ever made me miserable. Okay, well, I can say it now.
Here's the truth, and it isn't meant to scare you so you don't fast. Fasting is a good thing. So good in fact that I have been utterly miserable for four days. I'm not kidding. I've had migraines that weren't as bad as the headache I had Monday, and I've only had back pain this bad when I had a 24-hour flu and when I was in labor. Right now, my lower back and legs spasm and hurt so much that I have a hard time just being still to write. Trust me. I have learned how miserable a cleansing fast can be.
Why is that good? Because it is cleaning how my body. It's getting rid of the toxins in my system. My body is getting healthier. Physically, the benefits are huge, and this time there is evidence that something is happening.
A healthier body is good, but it gets better. During this time of misery, I have looked at my options. This isn't like a caffeine head ache that a soda will fix. If I eat a bag of Oreos, it won't get better. Really, there is nothing that can help this process. I even considered getting muscle relaxants or stronger pain killers from my doctor. The thing is, though, the pain is necessary. The cleanse is necessary if I want to be healthy. This misery, as much as I would love to get out of it, is necessary, and the simple fact is the only way through this misery is go to actually go through it.
Now, that might sound like the most obvious statement in the world. If it is, then why are so many people trying apparent shortcuts out of their misery when the only way they will truly feel better is to face their misery head on and go through it?
I'm not just talking about the physical discomfort of a fast. Most people can handle physical discomfort. The thing that gets us is the emotional and spiritual, and sometimes it is hard to tell the two apart. All we can say with certainty is that we hurt, and the hurt seems to engulf us. There is no way to turn, no way to move, no way to simply even exist without being in pain. Our first reaction is to find a way out. Unfortunately, that doesn't really get us healthy. It just makes it possible to ignore what is making us sick, and it puts us back in a place of dealing with symptoms but never getting well. The only way through is to go through.
So what does that mean in real life? It means you have to find a safe place to be honest. Stock up on some kleenex. Be prepared to feel like the world is crashing because the world you know may very be. If you are going to go through, you have to pour yourself into your faith. As I have felt incapacitated for any purpose other than cleansing, I have tried to spend my time in prayer rather than focusing on the pain. I read my Bible. I put on my worship music. Like I said, not only would I not put myself through the whole veggie and water only gig. I wouldn't inflict pain like this on myself either. If I am going to do this, I have to believe God has something good waiting for me at the end of this. Any time we are faced with the pain of an unwanted journey, cleansing, or open wound, we have to trust that God has something good waiting for us or we are likely to turn tail and run.
The thing is when we run, we only run back to where we were. Our "solution" may look different, but the results are the same. The only way out of the pain is through it, and while it is a miserable road when you are in it, if you are faithful to stick to it, you will reach the other side, and the Lord will be holding out good things for you.
And I keep thinking how good it will feel when people ask me about this later and I can smile and say with great joy, "Oh, that miserable thing? I'm through."
Hoping you take the road that takes you through....