Fasting is hard. Going without food or drink for two consecutive meals – that’s hard. It’s a sacrifice members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints make every month. It’s one way we show our devotion to God.
It’s particularly hard for me because I can’t actually fast. At least not for two consecutive meals. Having Type 1 diabetes means I really shouldn’t skip meals. I still do.
I can skip one meal easily. I often skip breakfast because I hate breakfast. It’s easy to forget to eat when I’m busy helping my family get ready for the day. I tend to skip meals when my blood sugar is too high. Skipping breakfast is a no brainer for me. Lunch isn’t too hard if I’m home alone. I don’t technically skip lunch though. I will snack on nuts or cheese or something low carb. I should do that in the morning but I don’t. I don’t like eating in the morning so it’s easy to forget.
Some people have medical issues that prevent them from fasting as prescribed by the Lord’s standards. I have read and heard many stories of how people make this sacrifice in a way that works for them. I read an article in a church magazine about a youth who could abstain from eating but got sick without water. They felt the Lord understood.
I have tried it all. I have tried fasting from food and water and inevitably end up with low blood sugar. So then I try giving up television or my phone or some other random privilege. It never feels like a sacrifice to me. I don’t have that moment where I want the thing I’m temporarily giving up and remember the purpose of my fast.
Gwen is having a hard time with fasting. I don’t remember Gavin complaining too much about it. Parker cannot be left behind so when Gavin was baptized and started fasting, Parker fasted too. We told him he could practice if he wanted to but he didn’t actually have to fast until he was baptized.
He burned himself out a little. By the time he was old enough to be baptized he no longer had the desire to do the things he was covenanting to do. That was a very real and difficult challenge for him to overcome.
Gwen suffers from youngest child syndrome. We often treat her like she is too little to have to do anything difficult. She likes to believe she is too young to be expected to do hard things. Fasting being one of those things.
With all the work we did last night I was concerned about my family. Should they really be fasting from dinner and breakfast? This is how they like to fast for two consecutive meals because we can eat lunch together either before or after church depending on our schedule that year.
Gwen was getting hungry last night. My blood sugar kept dropping with all the extra work I was doing. I asked Heath if he wanted me to make something for dinner. He reminded me that it was Fast Sunday. He was skipping dinner and breakfast. The boys didn’t even put up a fuss. As soon as they remembered it was the first Sunday of the month they were ready to fast.
Gwen was another story. She cried that she was hungry and that she’s too young to fast for two meals. I didn’t know what to do. I just told her that if she was that hungry she needed to make herself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. She didn’t like that idea so she busied herself with something else for a while.
Reportedly she cried in the bathtub feeling like she was going to die of starvation! She got out and begged for something to eat. I told her to make herself a sandwich if she was choosing not to fast for dinner. So she did.
Gavin saw her eating and got upset. He didn’t really yell at her but he was clearly bugged that she was getting preferential treatment and eating a snack. I told him it was her choice and to just leave her alone about it.
This morning he got up and poured himself a bowl of cereal because he forgot it was Fast Sunday. Gwen did yell at him about it. I told her she could remind him it was Fast Sunday in a much nicer way. Then I told her that if he did eat that was his choice and she should leave him alone about it. He poured the cereal back in the container and got in the shower.
The boys get really upset with Gwen because even before she was baptized she would beg for snacks on Fast Sunday. She has the stomach volume and will power of a gnat. Which reminds them of how hungry they are.
On the way home from church I talked about how I wanted Gwen and Parker to stretch themselves when it came to church. Parker was pretty mad at me this morning when I said that no one could take paper to church for drawing. Gwen handled my paper ban well.
Unfortunately she forgot that I had encouraged her to contemplate the purpose of testimony and even of going to church while the sacrament was being passed. Instead she read through The Friend. Not a bad thing except she kept poking me to point out fun things. Not surprisingly she was bored the rest of the meeting since she had read the entire magazine. Way to miss the point Little Miss!
Anyway, so on the way home I talked about how Heavenly Father wouldn’t give us commandments if he didn’t think we could follow them. They were both old enough and mature enough to be able to sit through Sacrament Meeting and allow the spirit to touch their hearts. I told them that even if they don’t want to pay attention to the meeting they could at least have a spiritual experience by reading something else like their scriptures or the church books we used to bring weekly.
The drawings had become too much of a distraction lately and I felt like they may as well be playing with toys! That meant something since our family has never allowed toys at church.
Then I told Gwen that I wanted her to try a little harder next month to fast for two meals. She was old enough because she had been baptized. The Lord wouldn’t ask her to do it if he didn’t think she was capable of it. We talked about how the uncomfortable hunger pains were a wonderful reminder that while our bodies need nourishment every day, our spirits need spiritual nourishment just as much.
I wish I could fast or at least find a sacrifice that feels equivalent to fasting. I don’t think sacrificing my spiritual instruction each week because I’m the Primary secretary and have been asked to be the hall monitor each week really counts. It’s a sacrifice and it wears on me but it’s not the same thing as fasting. This is my job!
My kids don’t seem bothered that I don’t fast. I hope they don’t find my parental lectures hypocritical. I’m doing my best to teach them and to help them grow into successful adults.