Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Rules

I have had a few people ask me specifics about what is or is not included in the Material Fast, so I thought this post might be a good idea to help better explain the "rules" of the fast.

Rule 1 -- My first rule would have to be that I do not expect my fast, which is a personal choice to me, to apply to anyone else in my life.  Jason (my husband) has made it clear that he has no desire to participate, and not because he has an obsession with buying things, but more because he does not seem to have an identity issue the way I apparently do!  I say if you see no reason to fast, then you must not have a reason to do it.  I, on the other hand, felt like God was calling me to do this, and so here we go.

That being said, Amy and I have both had people tell us they want to join us on this year-long fast.  We have a very dear friend, who would admit to you that she wants for nothing, who immediately told us she wanted to fast too in an effort to simplify her life.  Which leads me to Rule 2...

Rule 2 -- If you are wanting to participate in this material fast, your reasons or motivations for doing so do not have to be the same as Amy's or mine.  I think this is a personal decision, even though we are choosing to publicly discuss it.  Which leads to Rule 3...

Rule 3 -- Your rules might not be the same as mine.  I had one person tell me that he wanted to fast from buying hunting and fishing equipment, and another suggest she might need to fast from books.  Whatever "stuff" you see in your life that might be separating you from God, and from the genuine you, those are the things I would suggest you consider giving up.  It could be something different for all of us.  

Rule 4 -- My "stuff"!  For Amy and me, we decided we had a pretty defined list of things we would forego for 2012.  The following items will be off limits:  any form of clothing, from underpants and socks to pants and tops, shoes, jewelry, hair brushes, watches, sun glasses, hats, anything that will go on our bodies.  Our only exception will be running shoes, which I just had to purchase (thanks to my bad knees) and will likely need to replace once or twice this year depending on the amount of running I do.  We will also give up buying any other personal items for ourselves.  I had honestly not thought about this until questioned about it, but for me, that will include books or music (even digital).  We will allow ourselves to purchase basic care and hygiene items such as shampoo and soap, medicine, and replace the minimum essential makeup (though arguably makeup is not essential).  

Rule 5 -- Gifts are allowed.  I fully intend to continue purchasing gifts for others, and have already accepted a gift from a friend.  However, I do not intend to ask for a specific item as a gift.  In other words, if I decide I want something in particular, I will not ask Jason or anyone else to buy it for me.  I need to learn to live without the stuff I think I need or want.  

There may be more rules -- but that's all I can think of for now!

Though not necessarily a "Rule", we will also strive to reflect on the "why"...why we wanted to do this...why we are so consumed with stuff...why we beat ourselves up...why we let the outside world and material possessions define who we are...why we are not always happy with the reflection in the mirror...and what we can do to change get to the real "me".  To answer the question of "who am i" when we look in the mirror.  The rules are pretty simple, and though the stated objective is pretty simple too, I have a feeling this journey will be anything but simple...

maybe easy...but not simple.

Monday, January 9, 2012

I Hate Blogs

The responses I have received from my friends regarding our material fast and this blog have been overwhelmingly supportive and encouraging.  Well, all except for the one very good friend who declared, prior to even knowing what the blog was about, that she "hates blogs."   Thankfully the encouraging messages have outnumbered the one negative comment.  

I admit I was stunned and somewhat hurt when I initially read the "I hate blogs" response from such a good friend.  However, after a few email exchanges with my friend and learning why she hates blogs, I decided not to take it personally.  After all, she had not, and as far as I know still has not read a Mirror, Mirror post.  This friend explained to me that she is generally annoyed by social media such as Facebook and blogs wherein people chose to share their inner-most thoughts with the world in lieu of private diaries, prayer and reflection.  I can understand and respect that opinion.   Admittedly, part of why I thought Amy's idea to blog about our fast was a good idea was so that I could use the writing as a form of reflection on the purpose of our fast, and so far, at least for me, that has been the case. 

Days and weeks after my to remain unnamed friend made her declaration of hatred, I continued to think about what she had said.  I think it was the use of the word "hate" that surprised me the most.  As a mother of two young children, I have always tried to teach them not to say "hate" but to instead find another way to express how they feel about the object of their dislike.  I remember being about four or five years old and receiving a harsh spanking because I told my older sister that I hated her, so needless to say, I've always tried to be very careful about my use of that word.  

But the more I thought about it, the more I started to admit to myself that I too use that word, but in reference to myself.  It is sad to admit, but generally speaking, when the word "hate" comes to my mind or out of my mouth, it is usually when I am looking at myself in the mirror, or beating myself up about some perceived shortcoming of my own, whether as a wife, mother, or lawyer.  Sadly, I almost always find something to hate about the way I look when I glance in the mirror.  I think that if I use this fast as a time to try to see, truly see, who God sees and who God wants me to be, the word "hate" should not pop into my head when I look in the mirror.  I need to learn to love the wrinkles and sun spots, the gray hairs that seem to grow exponentially, and the weirdly stretched out stomach that has resulted from the birth of those two precious gifts from God.  I have a dear friend who once gave up mirrors for Lent -- now that is something to think about!  

I am going to try really hard to drop the use of the word "hate" when viewing myself, literally and figuratively.  I do not think for a second that God would want me to hate anything about myself.  After all, he made me, and I am his child.  I know he does not hate me.