Is It a Fast if I Whine the Whole Way Through?

I blame Jen Hatmaker.

And my husband Les. In equal measure.

Oh, and maybe God.

pie photo
The leftover pie crust from which I scraped the pumpkin filling. Note the frowny face Les carved into the crust.

See, a few weeks ago I read Jen Hatmaker‘s new-old book Interrupted: When Jesus Wreaks Your Comfortable Christianity. This book was originally written and published before 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, which I had never read. Since 7 was her breakout book, I thought I might as well read it.

Why I thought that was a good idea after being beaten up by Interrupted, I don’t know. Glutton for punishment, I guess. Or hungry for something other. Anyway, right as I was reading about her decision to live on only seven foods for a whole month (crazy talk!), Les started in.

“I think I’ll go on South Beach for a couple of weeks,” the man said. He’d done it before and kickstarted a rather successful diet. In the past he’d urged me to join in. I’d laughed. The sticking point was always the question of what I would eat for breakfast. I cannot eat eggs in the morning; they make me sick for the rest of the day. And I’m not a fan of breakfast meat. What could replace cereal and a banana?

As I thought about Jen’s radical fast and Les’s planned dietary restrictions, I thought I heard God suggest I fast from breads for two weeks. Was it he who reminded me I could eat yogurt for breakfast? The fast would be easier if Les really were eating no carbs. And the fact that I am so addicted to breads made me wonder if it wasn’t possibly a teeny-tiny idol in my life, perhaps in the shape of a Panera cinnamon crunch bagel.

I decided to go for it. Two weeks, no bread. I added all grains—no rice or pasta—because I was afraid I would simply substitute one for the other, and what would be the point? As a bonus, in the middle of that two-week stretch I was having a colonoscopy, so there was a day and a half I wouldn’t be allowed to eat bread even if I didn’t take on the fast.

The morning yogurt turned out to be the easy part. I lost interest in eating even when I was hungry, because, without bread—who cared? I whined that there was nothing, NOTHING, I could actually eat. I created my own substitution—sugar in high amounts. (So much for my faint hope that the fast just might help me also lose weight.)

I stuck to it like a Pharisee—legalistically, angrily, miserably. Les bore the brunt of it. He deserved it, though, because he never went on South Beach, and so I sacrificed alone. I made sure he suffered for it. Whine, whine, whine went the Carol.

I tried to inhabit the spirit of the fast. To pray when I was hungry. To praise God for all the other good things I had to choose from (yum, more yogurt [insert finger in throat]). To identify with the suffering of Christ or other believers or whomever.

It was a miserable failure. Yes, I ate no grains for two weeks, with the exception of a man-handled cheddar goldfish handed me by a four-year-old I didn’t want to explain the fast to. Even at the retreat where I spoke, where the eight-foot table was spread with every breadstuff known to man—including pumpkin donuts and rice krispy treats—I resisted. And mainlined Twizzlers.

Two weeks gone and I learned nothing.

Except maybe how self-indulgent I am. Oh, and that I’m only grateful if I get exactly what I want. And that I say I want God to interrupt my life to be used for his glory but I might not really mean it. Um, and also that sacrifice is not a characteristic of my life.

And maybe that’s something.


1 thought on “Is It a Fast if I Whine the Whole Way Through?”

  1. FYI – I still lost 2 pounds. Good thing I didn’t do the diet. I might have disappeared. Of course, in the wake of the intense whining, that might have been an improvement. By the way, you should read Jen’s book – Interrupted. Worth every poke in the heart it offers.


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