Why I Fasted Yesterday
It’s been more than 3 years since I fasted. I’ve been pregnant or breastfeeding for so long, I’d forgotten what it felt like to be really hungry, tired, and grumpy then after eating, to get the intense headache. It’s really not my favorite part of Mormon worship.
But, I did it because I wanted to show God I am willing to do hard things if it will help my relationship with the Divine.
Recently my relationship with the church has really suffered. So many aspects of church culture and practice make me crazy and I no longer believe that the church is capital T, True. I do think the church is good, and helps a lot of people, but I don’t think that God wants everyone to be Mormon, or that people who drink coffee are on their way to hell.
I am getting comfortable in my new relationship with the church, taking the good and leaving the bad. It’s my church, too, and I will find ways to make it positive.
However, my relationship with God has also changed. Until recently, I haven’t really understood how to separate my understanding of God from the church. Does God still love me?
I’ve been asking to feel God’s love, and it hasn’t happened on my knees. Perhaps it’s a question of faith. Divine intervention seems like such a great idea, but in practice, it’s so difficult. How can God heal the child next door, but allow genocide in Rawanda? I am in no way qualified to discuss theodicy, but these questions have changed my faith in a big way. My concept of God’s power and role in our lives is constantly changing, which makes my prayers at best, wishes, and at worst, totally usesless.
After dinner with a friend who mentioned that she’s been trying to read her scriptures, I went home and opened mine. Since my quest is to feel God’s love, I went searching for Nephi’s vision (1 N 11:16-17) where the angel asks him, “Knowest thou the condescension of God?” and Nephi answers, ” I know that he loveth his children: nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.”
While searching for this passage, I came across other verses that spoke to me. In Nephi chapter 15, Nephi is talking to his brothers, Laman and Lemuel, who like me right now, don’t have faith in visions, or God’s intervention. They still want answers, but instead of asking God, they ask Nephi.
In v 8 Nephi asks, “Have ye inquired of the Lord? They reply in v 9, “We have not, for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us.”
Yep, that’s what I would have said. That’s what I say to myself a lot.
Then in v 10-11:
“How is it that ye do not keep the commandments of the Lord? How is it that ye will perish, because of the hardness of your hearts? Do you not remember the things which the Lord hath said?- If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you.”
Even though I didn’t feel like God was answering my prayers, he spoke to me through the scriptures.
The thought came into my mind, “God has always spoken to me through the scriptures.” Not just the words that I read, but my inner dialogue changes, becoming clearer and more hopeful when I read (assuming I can block out the patricarchal framework).
Perhaps this seems small and silly, but for me, it was an answer. A little message from God. And, it was enough.
Right now, I think God wants me to focus on being a good person, keeping the commandments, and softening my heart. My concerns with the church aren’t going away, but I think my relationship with God will improve if I change my focus from what I don’t like to how to be a better person.
So, that’s why I fasted on Sunday. I want to mend my relationship with God, and I think fasting is one way I show God that I’m willing to sacrifice to do that.