Its Tuesday morning, and I have exactly 8 minutes to finish getting ready before I need to be in the car and on the way to work. This means I have exactly 8 minutes to pick out my clothes for the day, grab the lunch that I prepared the night before, and make sure the dog’s water bowl is full before I grab my keys and walk into the suburban tundra of Illinois.
All is well until I’m staring into the closet – a closet full of clothes – with nothing to wear. It takes me 8 minutes alone to decide on an outfit. One I was dissatisfied with anyways. I left feeling on edge, hurried and angry with myself.
Now this “crisis” could have been solved in many ways. I could have picked out what I wanted to wear the night before or given myself more time to get ready, leaving a buffer for my all-too-frequent indecision. As I thought of solutions and tried to calm my frazzled state of being, I was reminded of a 21-day fast my church did at the beginning of the new year in 2021.
To fast means to voluntarily reduce or eliminate something for a specific period of time and purpose. Fasting isn’t meant to be some self-righteous or pious act but an intentional lessening of the things that occupy our attention, so we can realign with God. I’ve seen people get creative giving up certain foods, social media or doing some form of intermittent fasting. That year, I chose to reduce my clothing. I had a 21-piece wardrobe for a 21-day fast.
I found it difficult at first, but as the days went on, I didn’t have to think long and hard about what to wear because I only had 5 shirts to choose from and odds are the other 4 were already dirty. I had more time to read and journal, and the best part is, I didn’t have this lingering dissatisfaction over something that held little to no long-term significance to me.
When we fast, we can come back to what’s essential. We may also become painfully aware of the distractions that have distanced us from the things that are most important. Food, clothing, technology, money, work, and relationships are all good things, but they were never intended to sit on the throne of our hearts, nor threaten the peace and sanctity of our minds.
The peace that comes from a deep and abiding connection with God will not leave us feeling hurried, discontent or unsettled. God continually invites us back into His presence. He invites us to slow down. To live simply. To be still and kneel silent before Him to reveal the places in our hearts where we have gone astray. It’s our human condition to wander. To worry. To get caught up in these little things. But He invites us back anyways with a compassion and gentleness that calms the anxiety within us.
So, as we go about our days, may we be reminded of what’s most important. May we realign our priorities and experience a deep and fulfilling connection with God and those around us. May we be intentional and hold loosely to earthly things. And may our fear fade in the light of His peace.