Wednesday, March 7, 2012

On fasting, finances, and food. 7, week two.

I'm still feeling those nudges.  Nudges away from self-indulgence.  Nudges toward generosity of spirit, time, and money.  I've felt that smallest bit of twinge in my heart when I pass up something I want.  And we're not talking big things here.

Like on Sunday after church.  All I wanted was a Wendy's burger and fries.  With a fountain Diet Coke.

But we drove home. And made something from our cupboards.  Something that didn't at all sound good.  It wasn't much of a sacrifice.  I get that.  But it did make me stop and ask Jesus for a content, thankful heart for the cupboards at our house that are overflowing with edible goodness.

I know my soul needs more moments like that. 

Here at the Brown Home we're on a fast, of sorts.  It's a financial fast for the month of March.  We're buying groceries (and staying within budget), paying bills, and covering emergencies.  And, of course, giving.  The idea hatched after Christmas when we were paying some bills and realized again that we overspend.  Often.  What doesn't feel like that big of a deal at the time (a lunch out with friends, a new pair of shoes for Caroline, lunch out after church, etc.) really does add up.  For the sake of financial responsibility, we need this step.

Gratefully Jesus opened up our eyes to the fact that this can, and should be, a spiritual exercise as well.  It breaks up the mindless rhythm of go where we want, get what we want, eat what we want. 

Here are the honest facts:
  • We've already cheated once, and ate out.  It was a pre-planned thing with some friends and we didn't think it was right to back out at the last minute.  
  • I scrounged in my car for $1.50 in change so that I could buy a Diet Coke at a restaurant.  I meet some girls there every week for lunch after a Bible Study, and still wanted "in" on the hanging-out-with-friends aspect of the lunch date.  Other than the D.C., I packed a lunch for me and Caroline.
  • I ordered a birthday gift for my nephew today on Amazon.  
Perhaps these things are A-ok?  Or else justifications?  Call 'em what you will.  After all, we're not doing this to earn favor with God.  Because we know Jesus personally, our sins are wiped clean.  So the favor is already there, and there's nothing I could do to earn it anyway.  We're praying this fast just opens up a little more space for us to experience the true joy that relationship.

So far, the fast hasn't started out to be that difficult.  Except for that little Wendy's moment.  And really, on the scale of easy (1) to painful (10) I would put Sunday afternoon at a 1.25.  But little changes are taking place.  I feel more peaceful - and quick - about giving a little money here or there, because I know that there's a a little financial breathing room to do so.  I like that.  These days I immediately delete sales offers from Lands End, Piperlime, and Tea Collection from my inbox, and I've found it saves me from both wasting time online browsing and spending those moments in the valley of discontent with my own clothes or Caroline's.  I'm not saying that online browsing or shopping is always bad, but for me, right now, it's not always the best.   

Somewhat unrelated, I also started baking my own bread, and GASP it actually turns out okay.

Just typing those things out makes this fast sound so paltry.  And it totally is, as compared to what others have done.  And yet it's a baby step.  And I want to start somewhere.

In her book 7, the author limited herself to 7 foods for a month.  Although I don't currently feel compelled to mimic that particular fast, I do appreciate some of the wisdom she gained from the experience.

As I reduce, He is enough.  As I simplify, He is enough.  He is my portion where food and clothes and comfort fall woefully short.  He can heal me from greed and excess, materialism and pride, selfishness and envy.  While my earthly treasures and creature comforts will fail me, Jesus is more than enough.  (pg 19)

Part of why I desire a reduction of sorts is because it helps me remember this simple truth: Jesus is enough.  Somehow His enough-ness becomes clearer to me when I strip down some other areas of my life.  Jesus,

The careful study of the Word has a goal, which is not the careful study of the Word.  The objective is to discover Jesus and allow Him to change our trajectory. (pg 24)

I do like me some Bible study sometimes, but studying the Bible for the sake of studying the Bible is pointless.  Like it says in James, Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says (James 1:22).  I desire to be a do-er of the Word.  And, let's face it, I'm a little nervous for what that might actually look like in my life. 

When accumulation is not our bottom line, we are liberated to disperse our time and resources differently. (28)

I'm starting to see this change in a really, really small way.  And I'm thankful for it.  Lord, keep this up.  Goodness knows I'm apt to fall back into the American dream over and over again.

Looking for more about 7 and this week's read-along?  See here.


Marla Taviano said...

I love this, friend. And we're doing baby steps too. Thanks for sharing what yours are. It's super encouraging.

I, too, want Jesus to be enough.

Short Stop said...

As I read this, I am taken back to our spending fast. I felt SO many of these same things, but you are so right - they might be easy on th grand scale but they are BIG victories. Even resisting a burger. HUGE victory.

I am enjoying following your thoughts on this so much. It's encouragement to my soul.

Love you, Jess.

Paulina said...

Love reading about this Jessica! Can't wait to read more, to see how God will continue to bless the ways you submit to Him. Press on :)