What God delivered in my Daniel Fast

It’s funny re-reading this post from 2012 today as I would probably entitle it “When Things Don’t Go So Well During Your Fast”. There are plenty of reasons to feel agitated – some of which are physical, particularly at the beginning when your body is going through caffeine and sugar withdrawal. If you read my previous post about What You Can Eat on the Daniel Fast, you know I had to make some adjustments in order to hear from God and get out of my own deprivation mindset … that and the whopping headache that left me without focus or a clear thought in my head, except for COFFEE! But there are other things that come up even when you’ve handled the food part of the fast well. As God shows you things He perhaps wants to change in you or develop in your character, the view isn’t always pretty. And even though God’s intentions and desires are wholly for you, don’t forget there is an enemy that absolutely hates you fasting and trying to get closer to God. So be aware, be gentle with yourself, ask God what he is telling you through this, and cast out the enemy from your thoughts, your home, and tell him in bold terms to stop messing with you because you are His!

I began the Daniel Fast on January 8th for two reasons: to know what God wanted to accomplish through me, and to ask Him to spread His wide hand of healing through a family that has been on my heart.

At the end of last week, I was feeling antsy, disappointed, and unsettled.  I was not feeling the same deep personal connection with God during this fast as I did last year, I wasn’t really hearing anything from Him about what He wanted to accomplish through me, and I confess I had growing doubts that healing was happening or would happen for the family I was praying for during my fast.  I have to acknowledge that God had certainly done alot with personal relationships in my life the past few weeks, but that’s not what I was going for.  Did you ever just feel like saying to God “Nice, but that wasn’t the question!”?

Saturday morning I got so worked up about a voice mail message from Pat at Verizon Wireless.  I had submitted an online contact form 2 days earlier explaining that I had not received an electronic copy of my Verizon statement for the last two months, and asked that someone look into it and reinstate it.  Well Pat left a message saying that she was following up on the email contact form I submitted, however she could not assist me because I did not provide the account password in my email.  Seriously? If they wanted the password, they should have asked for it – even required it, on the submit form, right?

I was already annoyed, but Pat had left the 800 customer service telephone number as well as her direct line for me, so I decided to call her right back and get the issue taken care of.  I dialed her number and it immediately went to voice mail, and it didn’t even give the courtesy “I’m assisting another customer …” message – it sounded like she wasn’t even planning on answering at that number.  Well, I just flipped out.  Seriously, that triggered something in me, that just set me off in an uncontrollable rant.  And in my mind I heard a voice saying Don’t do it, but I couldn’t stop myself from leaving an angry voice mail message.  I tried to soften the blow of my wrath by starting, “I’m sure it’s not your fault” … but even that was lost in what followed, “if a password is needed to assist me, the contact submit form should have stated that, and by the way, I didn’t get the response within the 24 hrs.  promised, so I’m a little frustrated that I’ve waited two days, and I wasn’t expecting to get your voice mail when I called right back, I didn’t change anything on my account to stop the electronic bill from coming, so now I’m at the same place as I was before I contacted you online.”

I ended the call, steam coming out of my ears by then I’m sure, and an email notification popped up on my phone – guess who?  That’s right – Pat from Verizon sent me a confirming email that she had attempted to reach me but could not assist me with my account because I did not provide the password, so she suggested I resubmit the contact form.  I was livid, so angry at being dismissed without the issue being resolved – I had to calm down.  There is nothing worse than being all jacked up about something and knowing at the same time that you are being totally irrational.

How do I spell relief? FOOD! I went to the kitchen to stuff down the rage and self-comfort with something to eat, but big problem – I’m on the Daniel Fast so there is absolutely no chocolate in the house!  Like a prowling cat, I opened cabinets, the frig, scanned the countertops – nothing sweet, nothing naughty, only fruits, vegetables, boring whole grains & nuts, …. I was beside myself!  I mean you have to get the irony of this moment – I am fasting to hear from God about what He wants to accomplish through me.  I have pledged obedience, I have said “I will make disciples of all the nations, I will go to the ends of the earth for You” … and then “but please don’t make me deal with the incompetence of Verizon Wireless!”

I plopped in my green chair and wrote in my journal LORD, SHOW ME, WHY AM I SO UPSET?  With everything (food) stripped away, sitting alone with my anger before God, I BECAME that wounded 10 year old girl, the middle of 5 kids when my mom died, who lost any consistent connection with an adult in my life, and I felt small, overlooked, unseen, insignificant.  And then I BECAME the wounded 40-year old woman and wife who felt like my opinion didn’t count, like I didn’t matter, when my husband took a job in Boston against my will, and I isolated and became disconnected from friends because I was ashamed that I didn’t want to follow my husband to Boston.  God brought me then to just a month ago when I BECAME that 58-year old Community Group leader feeling unimportant, not valued, and abandoned by members who attended small group regularly last year but hadn’t made it a priority this year.

So with Pat from Verizon Wireless, I responded and did what I did with every other relationship over the years when people weren’t available to me as I wanted them to be – I got mad, and I decided “If you don’t need me, I will not need you either.  I will find someone else who will value me.” And I shut them out, made them wrong for letting me down, for making their attention inaccessible to me.

I don’t know what God wants to accomplish through me on a grand scale or in the days ahead, but I do know this for today:  God often wants to do something IN us before He will do something THROUGH us or even FOR us.

Maybe you’ve been fasting and feeling discouraged, too, if you haven’t heard from God.  Or maybe you feel like your prayers are not being answered, or even heard.  I can assure you, dear one, that with His tender heart and craving for you to draw close, He is listening, He is longing to heal you, to grow you into all He designed you to be.

Is there something God wants to do IN you before He can do something THROUGH you or FOR you?

We must remember that the enemy hates our prayers and fasting, and wants nothing more than to distract us from our growing relationship with God by planting doubt and lies where we are most vulnerable.  The chorus from Demi Lovato’s hit “Skyscraper” runs through my mind in response, and reminds me that our victory is in Christ – that is the truth for which there is no doubt.

You can take everything I have, you can break everything I am, like I’m made of glass, like I”m made of paper.  Go on and try to tear me down, I will be rising from the ground, like a skyscraper, like a skyscraper!

Who will take care of u?

I was text chatting with my daughter the other night, as I was getting ready for bed and she was packing for a weekend getaway to visit a college friend..  Somewhere in the exchange of text messages, I let her know that I needed to have hammer toe surgery on my right foot (I had the same surgery on my left foot 5 years ago).  Her return text came quickly … who will take care of u?

I was struck by the sweetness of her response, this 23-year old woman who just began her “real” grown-up life in this past year – graduating from college last May, beginning her first full-time job and moving into her first apartment last August.  She remembered the surgery on my left foot, how she and her sister took me to the emergency room with a painful groin pull as the result of walking unevenly with a walking boot on my left foot in the aftermath.

But something else struck me – the recognition that her question “who will take care of u?” was always a question for me, one of those BIG haunting questions that colored my life journey and though unseen, defined some of my darkest seasons.  It’s a question only uncovered 3 years ago while I was in treatment for an emotional eating disorder, when my therapist abruptly halted the condensed version of my childhood I was offering, with a “WHOA … you just said your mother died when you were 10 yrs old and went right on to say that your Dad remarried when you were 12 yrs., like your mother’s death was nothing.  Do you realize how huge that is for a child to lose a parent?”  Well, probably for most kids it would be huge – I understand that, but my Dad remarried 2 years later so I had a mom growing up, I had someone to take care of me … that was pretty much my M.O. anytime I shared that info with anyone – to minimize my mom’s death as though it had no impact on who I am now, to dispense the story void of feeling and utterly ignorant of the recurrent theme that had played out my whole life since.  Who would take care of me after Mama died …  me – a middle child, not worthy of the attention the “baby” of the family got, not capable of the responsibility that the oldest would  have to take on to run the household?  My Dad of course, that is if you define care-taking as providing a roof over my head, food on the table, an education …

But then there was the move I made to New Jersey for the man of my dreams, leaving behind my family, friends, job and home – I traded in everything familiar to chase true love.  And it was good, until we made a move back to Boston where he was from and I felt alone and abandoned.  He resumed life where he left off – not that he was doing anything wrong – but I had different ideas of what marriage was supposed to look like, and I didn’t understand why we couldn’t commute together, why he would want to stop for drinks after work with his buddies, why he would choose golf over time with me on weekends, why it wasn’t important enough to him to visit my family in WI when we spent so much time with his family.  I wanted him to help me make my way in this new place of strangers where he easily slipped back into the coziness of family, friends, work relationships and familiar surroundings, but arguments only left me feeling needy and high maintenance in the relationship department.

Back in New Jersey, 13 years later we divorced – now more alone than ever with my entire family in WI, isolated from our “coupled” friends, a single parent struggling financially, the muted question ruled my heart and fueled my behavior … who will take care of me?   That seems so long ago, and I guess it was, but  in the sweetness of my daughter’s text message, I also felt a sense of pride – pride that who will take care of me post-op was not a question on my mind.  Do you ever just feel really good about yourself when you recognize that you’ve grown in some area, that something that used to trip you up has somehow lost its power?  That’s what I was thinking – no worries about who will take care of me (I have a wonderful church family and community that I know is there for me without question) so I guess recurrent themes from the past can be dealt with.

Or so I thought.  This morning I opened up an email from a good friend of mind, one that over the years I had received many times in different versions from different people …. you know the cutesy “send this to all your friends” kind – rarely do I send these emails on.  But as I read this email, something happened to me – I had a total meltdown, started sobbing … something about this FRIEND email touched such a deep place of sadness, resonated with comfort like a salve on an area of pain I didn’t know was there.

When you are sad,  I will jump on the person who made you sad like a spider monkey jacked up on Mountain Dew!!!

When you are blue,  I will try to dislodge whatever is choking you…

When you smile, I will know that you are plotting something that I must be involved in.

When you’re scared, we will high tail it out of here.

When you are worried,  I will tell you horrible stories about how much worse it could be until you quit whining, ya big baby!!!!

When you are confused, I will use little words.

When you are sick, stay away from me until you are well again – I don’t want whatever you have….

When you fall, I’ll pick you up and dust you off – after I laugh my rear off!!

This is my oath and  I pledge it to the end. ‘Why?’ you may ask – because you are my FRIEND!

I had been reading Milan & Kay Yerkovich’s “How We Love” – a book and workbook I highly recommend, and I listened to a CD teaching on the Vacillator love style this afternoon, hoping to discover what brought on all the tears earlier when I opened the email.  According to Kay, a vacillator is raised in a home where connection is there, but it’s inconsistent.  It is based more on a parent’s mood than on a child’s needs, so when a child experiences something really good from a parent and then the parent goes away for a period of time, the child gets mad as they wait and wait for the parent to reengage.  The child feels both in need of the parent and anger at the parent for making them wait, for not being available as much as they’d like.  How does this play out as a vacillator begins dating or interacting in adult relationships?

Milan & Kay tell us vacillators that our longing for love gets stuck on HIGH, and we set off on a quest to find consistent connection we missed as a kid.  We like it intense, we want to feel it, and we want it to last on that passionate level.  When “the honeymoon is over” and our relationship settles into a normalcy as all relationships do sooner or later, we eventually get to that place where we have to wait for the attention we want … and when the waiting happens and disappointments come along, we get mad – just like when we were a kid and our parents weren’t meeting our needs the way we wanted them to.  So what are we so afraid of?  We’re afraid of feeling in our current relationships what we felt growing up – abandoned, unseen, invisible, misunderstood, unknown … we’re afraid of feeling those childhood feelings again, afraid to let the past flood into the present, so it’s easier to get mad, to cover our fear by idealizing our future (I’ll find someone who does love me and is available to me all the time) – in either place we don’t have to feel sad or hurt or feel those painful childhood feelings again.

I thought listening to this teaching would explain my morning tears,  but it only added to them as Kay described the picture one of her vacillator clients produced when she asked him to use shapes and colors on a piece of paper to draw his childhood.   He took just a moment to draw one small dot with a black marker before handing the paper back to Kay … that was how he felt as a child – small, insignificant, unseen, unimportant.  That dot was me as a child, and it’s still me on some days as an adult … this morning, reading that email,  connected with my “dot identity” and I felt like someone saw me, was there for me.   It hurt to remember how long I had searched outside the dot to find someone else to love me like I wanted to be loved, to become something so I would be noticed, to do something new, find something better – anyone, anything, to avoid the pain of facing that smallness, those feelings of insignificance again.

Thankfully Kay offered some direction to enlarge the shape and color of my adult landscape on paper.  She said if a vacillator is going to grow and really face their fear, they have to be willing to go back and realize the pain they felt as a kid is what they’re trying to avoid in every relationship and in every moment of every day.  The solution is connection – the healing from childhood wounds can only be found in a group of people supporting you to face your childhood feelings, providing comfort in memories of pain from the past.

Milan sums it up this way … we’re all afraid to go back and feel the feelings we had as a child, facing the fears that we may experience as adults.  But we have to remember that we have an adult version of ourselves now, and we have a relationship with God that can fill in the holes as people miss us.  So true … God in His extravagant love is with us, and we are perfected in His love.  And so I finished off the afternoon with one more good cry as I listened to JJ Heller’s “What Love Really Means” knowing I am loved and held in His grip.

I will love you for you

Not for what you have done or what you will become

I will love you for you

I will give you the love, the love that you never knew

You Tube – JJ Heller – What Love Really Means