Hunger is defined as a strong desire or craving… usually for food.
I have found that the way I handle hunger for food transfers to other areas in my life. In my pursuits, I am undisciplined and led by my emotions.
I was praying July 17 when God laid the idea of a fast on my heart. I had just got back from a Theology of the Body training and learned the importance of self mastery. I knew this fast would be intense, but I had no idea the blessings and trials it would bring.
Starting the fast, I prayed it would help me establish self mastery in all areas of my life. Boy, did I ask for it. The first day of my fast, I was tempted with another form of distraction: men. I realized I needed to starve myself from other sources of love during the fast so I can focus on the happiness that comes from God alone; His Spirit dwelling inside.
This fast has given me the opportunity to really examine the way I love myself by setting myself apart from my usual routine. I found more than a few improvement areas. In James chapter 3, he talks about how the tongue is a small member of the body but dictates the direction you go. I started paying attention to how I talked about myself and realized I often embarrass myself for humor instead of loving myself for my strengths. If you want to be misunderstood, just I criticize yourself in front of others. Pointing out your flaws may seem humble, but it is still judgment and Christ is the only one that can judge. St. Paul says, “In fact, I do not even judge myself” (Cor. 4:3).
The next thing I discovered is I had an eating problem. For about 2 years now my desire for food has been excessive and disordered. Disordered desires are unhealthy because the action usually fulfills a purpose it is not made for. I was eating good tasting foods to make me feel good emotionally, but it wasn’t enough. It was a distraction from how I was really feeling. I found I was disrespecting my body because I was angry that my life was not going the way I wanted. Instead of starving myself, I ate toxic food so I could have a reason to complain about another thing- my weight.
Though this fast has stripped me bare leaving the ugly truth about my disordered desires, it has been worth it. The blessings that pour from the openness for change is immense. (These blessings will be described in a later blog following my fast).
Here are some guidelines to examine when starting a fast:
- Pick a manageable diet plan. Don’t plan on starving like Christ did for 40 days. Give up certain types of food and take vitamins to supplement.
- Pray unceasingly. At some points of the day, prayer is the only thing that made me feel better. Being hungry intensifies the feeling of satisfaction prayer brings. Pick a novena to say every day. My favorite for daily intentions is the sacred heart novena.
- Set a goal. Pick something you are struggling with to master during the fast. It could be your desire for unhealthy foods or another disordered desire. We need a purpose to hold firm in our fast.
- Dedicate the fast to someone special. I decided to pray for someone daily during my fast and it has made all the difference. Knowing you are sacrificing for another’s well being is fulfilling beyond belief. It gives you strength to keep going because your care for them runs deep.
When you focus your energy and intentions fully on Christ with no distractions, that’s when the blessings come. Hunger is usually followed by satisfaction; put your hunger in the right place.
To read more scripture related to fasts, check out my blog at examiner.com