I grew up very contentedly on a diet heavy in crispy bacon, rich slabs of pot roast, and made- from- scratch mashed potatoes. I prefer my veggies to be swimming in cream sauce or anointed with cheese. As for sweets, hey, even at 50 + I still consider them to be a major food group. When we moved back to the Midwest from the Cape eight years ago, my going-away party featured a gorgeous life-sized Hostess cupcake, complete with cream filling and a giant white squiggle on top.  My friends know me well.

So how does a farm girl switch to a diet – for 7 weeks anyway – limited to fruits, unadorned vegetables, whole grains, and water?

No one needs to convince me how healthy it is, but health alone wasn’t enough of an incentive for me to adopt a Daniel fast diet during Lent this year.  As I shared last time, I want to hear from God.  Before a comment is posted stating the obvious, of course one can hear from God no matter what they are – or in my case are not – eating. It’s not about the food.

Precisely. So what is it about fasting – the intentional decision to embrace an ancient biblical discipline – that has so changed my life this past month?

All I know is that when I stopped focusing on what I want and what I thought I needed, God has given me what I truly wanted and didn’t know how to get. Unlike my husband, who is the most physically and spiritually disciplined person I know, I have been neither.

Healthy diet? Nope. Consistent time in the Word? Hardly. Regular exercise? Occasionally. Daily journaling? Now there we’ve had progress, but even that has been a struggle.

But not this past month. Somehow the discipline of fasting has jump-started something else in me: a desire to say no to the easy and convenient in favor of embracing something more.  More time with God, more time on the elliptical and in the Zumba studio, and best of all a renewed dedication to persevering through the books of the law as I’m reading through the scriptures chronologically this year.

Heaven forbid, quite literally, if this sounds like boasting. There’s nothing praiseworthy about doing that which I should have been doing all along. I’m eligible for AARP, for goodness sake. This passage from Isaiah 58 has been feeding me this week:

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?

“Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”

When it comes to fasting forward, I’ve got a long way to go.