Last week and into this week our Heart of a Woman study called us to initiate a fast for the Lord. To purposely give up something you love for a certain amount of time just never sounds fun. It’s like I could almost feel my flesh cringe as I read about fasting and what it really means and why we really do it. I knew I was going to fast from something. Even though I didn’t feel it, I did know that the Lord was more important than anything else I wouldn’t want to give up for a time, and I do want to desperately believe that. The question was more of my motives—would I just fast from something to say I’m doing what I’m supposed to do and be “good,” or would this really be to delight in the Lord and say that He really is everything I need?
I had known what the Lord wanted me to fast from for a while, but didn’t want to say it out loud because then I would have to do it and I REALLY didn’t want to fast from this. I kept praying, “Lord just make this really clear, I’m not sure this is really what you want”…ha, it makes me laugh because I definitely knew. In my small group time after Laurie’s lecture that, again, reminded us that fasting is really about saying no to your flesh and it’s a way to be so diligent with our sin, we discussed what we were going to be fasting from. I asked my small group to be praying because I told them I still wasn’t sure what the Lord was calling me to fast. As the discussion continued all of a sudden this came out of my mouth, “I know someone that actually gave up makeup for lent and I can’t stop thinking about that and I think that may be what I’m supposed to fast from.” Everyone in my small group began to encourage me that that would be great for me to fast from, knowing that I’ve confessed finding so much identity in the way I look over the course of our few weeks together. Literally the rest of our small group time I tried to stop my mind from spinning as I kept thinking about how weird it would be to not wear makeup to work and kept thinking about what everyone would think of me. I hate to say it, because I know it’s really such a trivial thing, but I was terrified. I couldn’t get out of my mind how others at work would respond, criticize, think. And of course, at that time I wasn’t confessing any of this to the Lord; my focus was just on me.
I was going to fast for three days from makeup. I want to share what the Lord did during those three days with my prayers and confessions in between.
The night before it all began I prayed to the Lord,
“God, I’m really scared to give up makeup for these next few days and I hate that I’m scared—focus still on me. Lord, I want to delight in you. I’m worried what people will think tomorrow, I’m clinging to others saying that I don’t look that different without makeup instead of clinging to you. God, put my flesh to death, put my focus on you.”
The next morning before going into work, I prayed to the Lord,
“Lord, you are good. You are everything I need. I don’t need makeup on my face, I am perfectly loved by you and your love is enough. I confess I’m trying to make myself believe this, Lord. I’m seeing how much I don’t believe it, but, Lord, I really do want to. I’m scared to go into work, I’m scared of what they’re going to think and what to say if they ask. Lord, I want my identity to be in you, not me and what others think of me. Lord, help me deny myself today and delight in who you are. Help me remember the woman that poured all her oil out to you…”
Once I got to work I prayed to the Lord throughout the day,
“Lord, I want to hide in my office and put my head down when anyone walks by. I’m terrified of the board meeting when I’ll have to face people today. My stomach gets in knots every time someone walks by my office. Oh gosh Lord, I really hate this. Crucify my flesh. I don’t want to care, Lord; you are so much more important.”
“I think I have a headache because I’m so hyper focused on what others are thinking. My flesh really hates this, Father; will you clear my head and help me look to you only?”
Throughout the remainder of that first day the Lord did allow me to contemplate the sacrifice He made for me and did bring me to different Scriptures. I went to the board meeting that afternoon and as I left I could feel my flesh trying to reason me into not doing the fast for the next two days. I kept thinking, I got through this day, I proved that I can look not at self for a day. The more I thought about it, however, the Lord began to speak to my heart and show me my sin at the board meeting and throughout the entire work day. I had isolated myself from everyone, was super quiet, not taking interest in others at all. Basically I had still been focused on myself all day. Instead of confessing all of this to the Lord, I allowed my flesh to let the frustration of my sin spin in my head until I became more and more sickened over myself…yet again, all about SELF! At that time, my husband called and I snapped at him about something that was so silly. When I got off the phone, the Lord sweetly continued to speak to me about how my sin was just leading to more sin. He gently revealed my pride and how my confidence was completely in my feelings all day and not in Him. He revealed how my motive for this fast was to fix my sin of self-focus and pride instead of just delighting and believing in who He is. I was so thankful for Him revealing where my motives were as the fast was going on versus after it was over.
I continued to think about this through the evening. The Lord brought to mind one of my sweetest memories of my husband and me dating. Very early on in our relationship he challenged me to a game. He came up with a just ridiculous word that you don’t hear many people say in normal conversation and challenged me to see who could use the word the most throughout the day. We had to record our conversations to prove that we were using it and we shared all the recordings with each other that night on our date. The word was flabbergasted. That day was the first time I really remember not caring what other people thought of me. When I was trying to use the word as much as possible instead of my focus being on what people thought as I used the word constantly in our conversations it was on my boyfriend and how much I cared about him and our date that we would have that evening where we would laugh about it all. That is one of my sweetest memories with my husband because it was that day that I knew our relationship was different. I knew I loved him because no one else’s opinions mattered and I had never experienced that before. Oh and by the way, I won!
I loved that the Lord brought this to mind. He uses my husband as an analogy to Him a lot and it’s so precious to me. I believe the Lord impressed in my mind, “What if your husband asked you to give up makeup for three days?” When really pondering that question, I realized that if he had asked me to do that, my outlook at work would be completely different than what it had been that day. I would have thought about him and been confident in what my husband had asked me to do and wouldn’t have regard for people’s thoughts because I love my husband more. After I thought about the answer to that first question, I believe the Lord also impressed in my mind, “Why is it different if I ask you to give up makeup for three days?” I realized it should be no different. This fast wasn’t to fix anything, but to just say God is more important and to be confident in that and in His love for me and in who He is, just like I would with my husband.
The Lord gave me so much grace over the next two days of my fast to remind me of these questions. He brought to mind truths like Psalm 37:4-5, Psalm 63:3, Psalm 40:3, 11, Isaiah 61:10, and Colossians 3:1-3 to help me think on. Throughout the next two days I still had to confess to the Lord that I was looking in things that reflected because I still cared what I looked like, I was trying to justify to myself that I didn’t look that different so it was okay, I was battling the thought that people at work would never look at me the same, that they wouldn’t see me as a pretty girl anymore because they knew what I really looked like, and that I really hated the fast the entire time. I also had to confess that while I was fearing what people at work would think of me and that they would never look at me the same, in almost the same breath I was taking pride in doing this fast because of the sweet encouragement and praise I was getting from people in my Christian circles, thinking, oh I can write about this and people will just think I’m so good and godly. I journaled to the Lord,
“My mind, my flesh is pulled by two different worlds—the secular world and the religious world and they both make me look directly at me instead of above, to the real world that I should live for. Lord, please forgive me for looking to me instead of you. Father, I really want to fix this, but I can’t. Will you please help me take my mind off that and just delight in who you are, look to where you are, and be confident in that? I need you, please help me, Father.”
It wasn’t a perfect fast. I was still confessing the same things on day three that I was confessing on day one and I gotta say, I’m glad I can wear makeup again, but the Lord did move and teach me during this fast. My faith was tested and I’m thankful for His grace that allowed me to do this, I’m thankful for the perspective He gave me. I’m thankful that while I was at work I got to practice coming to Him more throughout the day, seeing that desperate need that I really have. While my flesh fought the fast the entire three days, I got to see who really was more important, and while I didn’t necessarily “feel” that God was more important, I’m thankful the Lord gave me grace to act as if He was and thankful He gave me eyes to see Him at work through it all. And I’m thankful my motives were for Him and not just to be good—what a sweet, tiny victory the Lord allowed even in the midst of imperfection.
Planted for His Glory