Happy New Year to you!!!!! We are already well into 2020 and halfway through the month of January! Hot diggity dog! Some of you may be thinking to yourself, “great, here we go; yet another New Year Resolution” article/post/blog. (insert annoyed face emoji here) Well, I am here to tell you that, nope that is not what you’re going to find here today…or ever for that matter. (I, personally, don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions for I think they’re made in haste, not well thought out, and more often than not body driven. We are more than the size of our jeans, okay?! Another topic for another day.)
The church the family and I have been attending since we moved is called Church of the Highlands. https://www.churchofthehighlands.com/ Prior to moving back from being stationed overseas, we were recommended a few churches within the area and chose to try Highlands simply because of how it immediately made us think of Scotland. We loved our time visiting Scotland and it’s people, landscape, and cities really carved a spot in our hearts. So, yup, that is how well thought out our attendance to Highlands was; we are so deep. (haha) But, God knew our family needed this church and it’s pastoring. We haven’t even looked at another church since the initial Sunday we attended–and that is NOT a normality for us.
The first Sunday back after the new year, Pastor Chris Hodges (@pastorchrishodges) discussed the upcoming sermon series: 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting. Apparently this is done annually at the start of each new year as a way to get focused for the upcoming year and to see through the correct lens. Getting focused on what truly matters and that is our relationship with Jesus and to throw out/throw off anything that has held us back. To not bring that mess with us into 2020. He then discussed the different biblically based methods of fasting:
- Complete Fast–only physically consuming water or juices (**very extreme and should only be done if approved by your doctor)
- Selective Fast–choosing specific things to refrain from (ex: meats, breads, sweets, etc.)
- Partial Fast–choosing to eliminate a single meal or single food group (ex: miss breakfast or not consume dairy)
- Soul Fast–if food isn’t the ‘thing’ that is going to be the challenge or is the distraction, then maybe it’s an external influence such as social media, news outlets, a particular television show watched or genre of music which is redirecting focus.
As Pastor Chris was outlining these different types of fasts, each one sounded pretty straight forward and no real reaction. No real reaction, that is, until he got to the soul fast. Then, as if out of nowhere, I feel this tug. This pull. This pit in my gut. This discomfort. This internal tap on my shoulder as if to say ‘hey, hey, hey, this one; yeah, this one right here, this is your kryptonite. This is an area that is causing you, Erin, to have distraction and take your focus off of me.’ You see, I knew deep down I have needed to change my phone/social media habits and the amount of time spent on this here cell phone. When your own child makes comments that you’re on the phone too much, well not only is that a sucker punch right there, but should cause anyone to want to change their ways. I’d make some feeble attempts to change the behavior patterns I had created, but would make excuses as to why I “needed” to be on social media. “I ‘need’ to post because if I don’t, then how will I grow my audience and ultimately be able to help more people with their health and fitness?” Yup, that is the nonsense I would tell myself. (authenticity and transparency is what ya’ll are gonna find here, folks) I mean, simply writing this down and I’m embarrassed by my own lame attempt at justifying my behavior. We all know this slippery slope–what would initially begin as a simple post would ultimately turn into a mindless scroll seeing what other people are doing and then turn into a negative internal dialog about all the things I am not doing or what I am trying to do, yet not doing as well as “so and so.” The slippery slope of comparison. Yet, we are comparing ourselves to the highlight reel others are posting. Why do we seek validation of others when all we truly need is to know we are valued by the one who made us?! Why do we do this to ourselves?!? If this (comparison) isn’t your kryptonite then insert whatever is and ask yourself the same question–why do we do this to ourselves?!
So, I decided enough is enough. What would happen if I participated in this 21 days of prayer and fasting and got off social media for 21 days? Would the world as we know it end? No. It won’t. That’s dramatic. So, what was holding me back from doing it? I had real no reason not to participate.
We are currently in the second full week of the 21 Days of Prayer and this is day 9 of being off social media. This is what I have learned. So far, I have had my eyes opened to just how much time I had wasted. Really quite embarrassing to be honest. Mindlessly scrolling and picking up the phone throughout the course of the day. Again, I would internally justify it was for “work,” but we all know that is a load of donkey poop. I have also learned when you remove an outlet where the Devil has had the ability to gain a foothold on you and you’ve given it to God, man does that make him ticked off. So he gonna try other ways to steal your joy. For example, last week on day 3 of the fast we had a flood in the bathroom. Yup. Toilet began leaking just before dinner resulting in our household needing to limit water usage for the rest of the evening into the next day until a plumber could come out. On day 5, I think, of the fast we also had an unexpected bill come up–thank you Dave Ramsey and your Financial Peace University training. On day 6 we found ourselves hanging out in the closet for a bit for we had some serious weather and lost power for a while. The Devil is trying. He is trying all of us, ya’ll. Be vigilant.
However, I have also learned when my focus is less distracted, my eyes are more opened to beautiful opportunities to see His hand at work. The most recent being I was a sub at a new facility. At the end of the class, a group of young women came up and said they had had fun in class. I thanked them for coming to which one asked if there was anything they could be praying for. We were prayed right then and there all post workout sweaty. It was a beautiful and amazing thing. The type of encouragement and reassurance God knew I needed.
So, I guess this is a long winded way of saying, whatever is holding you back or capturing more of your attention and focus than needed; what would happen if you were to give up that ‘thing’ for 21 days? Don’t think of what would be lost during that time; but, think about all that could be gained.
Until next time,
PS: if you would like to follow along in the 21 Days of Prayer click here and see what the challenge is all about: https://21days.churchofthehighlands.com/