HAPPY NEW YEAR! And welcome to the first month of The 7 Experiment.
The late fall/early winter season is one that has always somewhat baffled me. First we have Halloween where we start the overindulgence with candy, sugar, and treats. From there we move on to Thanksgiving where we all gather together with the soul purpose of giving thanks for the abundance (usually in the form of far too much food on the table.) The VERY next day (and often times just a few short hours AFTER giving thanks for what we already have) is met with the mayhem that is Black Friday. People scrambling to snag “the greatest deal of the year” and get their hands on this seasons “it” item. The Monday after Thanksgiving is dedicated to getting all the deals on the items you didn’t manage to snag in store from the comfort of your couch and PJs or at your office computer where you are pretending to be working.
And all of this leads up to Christmas, where our children spend Christmas eve with family at church singing praises to God for sending us the “best gift of the season” only to race home and jump in to bed as quickly as possible with the hopes that when they wake up the floor under the Christmas tree is covered with shiny wrapped packages they can rip into.
It seems like the last 2 to 3 months of each year consists of excess and indulgence. Then, oddly enough, January rolls around and the desire to de-clutter and reduce the all around amount of intake. Getting rid of possessions, cleaning out closets, and heating less junk and more health foods.
I will admit I am just as guilty of this process as any one else (with the exception of the Black Friday sales. I avoid those like the plague.) Which is why, as I was going through my book shelf and I came across my copy of Jen Hatmaker’s “The 7 Experiment” study guide I realize I needed to stage my own mutiny against excess.
The study guide begins with an intro to the whole thing. She lays out her reasoning behind the desire to take this somewhat controversial approach to a few aspects of life (much like I have done above). In that intro she talks about the six possible approaches to a fast of this magnitude (and any fast really). She points out that, for her, she was choosing to undergo this experiment due to her need for repentance. A physical, tangible way to show that she had taken advantage of God in dangerous ways and was truly repentant of that. Secondly she said this:
My second reason was for preparation. Most of my life is in front of me yet. I’m 37 years young and only a few years into my assignment as a writer and Bible teacher. The bulk of my work lies ahead. My children are young-still entirely impressionable. It is not too late to untether them from the lie of “more” Our church vision is new and our mission is really just beginning. I was hungry for the reconstruction. (Pg 24)
This simple paragraph punched me in the gut so hard I am pretty sure the wind was actually knocked out of me. I am in that place. Here I am, 31 years old with my ministry just developing in front of me. My children, already at the ages of 7 and 5, have fallen into the “more, bigger, better” trap. And it’s entirely my fault.
But she doesn’t stop there. She reminds us that even though we (and I do mean WE, as a nation, states, cities, households, and individuals) have fallen into this lie of more is more and bigger is better, there is hope. Because Jesus has given us the answer. He told parables with the purpose of us understanding where our focus should be. And He reminds us that the “things” we have put our trust in won’t last forever.
But it takes us stepping up and making the conscious choice to say “I choose you Jesus. I choose less distractions and clutter and more of you in and through me each and every day.” So here goes. The first step to saying “Less is More” Less me, myself, and I and more Jesus.
Mutiny Stage 1: Food
I LOVE food. I love to cook food. I love to eat food. I love the way food brings people together. In my experience, it is very hard to remain angry, frustrated, or disappointed with someone when you are enjoying a good meal together. It’s like food is the medicine that is the conduit that opens the lines of communication.
It’s no wonder there are any number of restaurants in a given area, adds for food on every single media outlet on the planet, and a booming industry dedicated entirely to the production, distribution, and consumption of food. But it is also the door way to one of the BIGGEST problems in our country.
We tend to love food just a little too much. And now that we don’t really have to work all that hard to get it, our love of food has turned into an idol. Pinterest contains “board” after “board” with recipes galore and the Food Network prides itself on making chef’s household names almost as much as professional sports. We worship those who can create beautiful masterpieces that are as stunning to the eye as they are to the taste buds.
And I am one of those worshipers. I LOVE the Food Network. (I don’t have regular access to it but lucky for me Netflix and YouTube are a thing and I use them regularly to get my foodie fix). My favorite show are the cake/cupcake/baking competition shows. Because, well, I have a bit of a sweet tooth. To say I have a sugar addiction would be an understatement.
Which is why, for my first month of this experiment, I am breaking my chains on my sugar addiction. For the entire month of January I will be fasting from all things sweet.
No cookies, no candy, no treats, not even sugar in my tea. (This one is a big deal you guys! I LIVE ON SWEET TEA and I have since I was a child.) I am not going to go so far as to check each of the labels on the foods I buy because, well….I just really don’t have that kind of time. And really, in today’s market it’s just too hard to completely eliminate sugar.
We are also going to be cutting back on the easy junk food that tends to be my go to. Things like mac and cheese, hot dogs, and chicken nuggets. Not to mention the quick run though the drive though or the delivery of pizza.
My desire during this time is to be reminded that God works for us. He provides the best and it is my responsibility to pass that best on to my family. The things we use to indulge in aren’t the best. They are good for a time but when I am finding myself go for the sweet unhealthy snacks rather than being conscious of what is being put into my body then it is time for a change.
Over the course of the next month I will be keeping up with the progress of my fast. I will also be thinking and writing through the study guide questions in the book. I will post an update once a week. I hope and pray that as I go through that not only will I begin to experience real change within my life I will be able to share and inspire others during the process. Thanks for joining me along this ride and stay tuned for the next update.
Have you every taken part in a fast like this?