Psalm 69:9-18 (NRSV)
It is zeal for your house that has consumed me;
the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.
When I humbled my soul with fasting,
they insulted me for doing so.
When I made sackcloth my clothing,
I became a byword to them.
I am the subject of gossip for those who sit in the gate,
and the drunkards make songs about me.
But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord.
At an acceptable time, O God,
in the abundance of your steadfast love, answer me.
With your faithful help rescue me
from sinking in the mire;
let me be delivered from my enemies
and from the deep waters.
Do not let the flood sweep over me,
or the deep swallow me up,
or the Pit close its mouth over me.
Y’all. I have been driving the struggle bus this week.
Have you ever felt that? Of course you have. You’re a human. No matter how hard you try, it will never be enough for at least one person. No matter how nice you are or how much you contribute, someone is just not going to like you because you’re you. It’s the way of the world.
This Psalm really speaks to me. It really, really helped me get through the process of leaving my last position in the church. I felt like I was working my hardest to dot every I and cross every T in the exact font and size with a 1″ margin, but no matter what I did, I felt as if “they insulted me for doing so” and that they laughed and danced when I messed up. I felt as if my enemies were out to get me. In meditating on this Psalm and asking for deliverance from that situation, I never thought it would mean a change in careers. But God’s plans are usually different from my own.
Have you ever ordered a package on Amazon and followed the tracking? Packages always seem to go way out of the way before they reach me. “Your package has left the distributing center in New York and is on it’s way to you in Texas, but first it needs to take a small trip to a post office in Montana.”
I was delivered to a different place, but it’s not perfect. It is hard and I struggle every single day. But, maybe God is still in the process of the delivery and this is just a check point.
I have been fasting from different things this week, trying desperately to get out of my obsessive loop of anxiety and focus on listening to God by doing a variety of things, but honestly, it hasn’t been so great.
I fasted from TV on Monday, and that was pretty easy, with the exception of being at the gym. Avoiding the TV in the gym is apparently really difficult. But after the gym I did some studying, listened to The Liturgist podcast, and went to bed early. James was working so it was easy for me to just avoid it. Yesterday was hard.
I decided to fast from social media. I usually fast from social media during Lent, so I thought it would be easy. I forgot about that withdrawal period. I would pick up my phone just to end up setting it down again. I checked apps I rarely look at just to fill my time. I was so desperate to think about anything other than what was going on in my own brain and not having social media to distract me was hard. I prayed. I picked up my phone and read scripture. I tried to focus my attention to being still and listening to God. But TBH, it didn’t work nearly as well as I had hoped.
Today has been easy, but not for the right reasons. I decided to fast from spending money. You need to understand that I love spending money. More precisely, I love spending money on restaurants, bars, and at Target. When I was making more money, I used to go to Target at least twice a week, just to stop in and pick random stuff up. James and I would eat out 3-4 times a week. We spent way too much money on restaurants. Fasting from spending money has been a bit of an ongoing project since November, simply because I just physically don’t have any money to spend.
So today when I looked in our fridge and there was barely anything other than condiments in there, instead of running out and getting groceries or ordering food in, I just had to make do. I did it because yeah I’m fasting from spending money, but mostly, I just don’t have any. It’s not so much fasting as I literally can’t even right now. Tomorrow is payday so I will go to the grocery store tomorrow.
My fast tomorrow is meat. James is a vegetarian full time, which is so weird to me, but I can do a meatless day and not die. If I don’t update tomorrow, you’ll know that my previous statement was not true and that I actually, did in fact, straight up die. Friday is a fast from food while the sun is out. We’ll see if James is still happy that today is our anniversary at the end of Friday 😛
Whatever you’re doing for Lent, whether it’s fasting or adding something in, or maybe it’s nothing at all, I hope that you can at least take stock of the places in which your life could use a bit of trimming. Maybe you need to be delivered from a situation. But remember that in whatever we ask God for help for, God may or may not answer. Because sometimes a non answer is an answer all on it’s own. If and when God does answer, it probably will not be the route you would have taken. But just know that you will eventually reach your destination and that it is important to take time to enjoy the journey. You’ll see some incredible people and places and get to experience some awesome adventures. But you have to be open. You have to be willing. And you have to have hope.
Fasting gives us hope. Moving something out of the way allows us to open ourselves up to something new. Fasting helps us remember that our journey is not over and that we are in transit to our final destination. Fasting allows us the opportunity to try new things and witness the wonder and beauty of God in totally new ways.