On Thanksgiving Day, I finished a Daniel Fast, to detox from all the caffeine and sugar and take-out I ingested in the final push to get the manuscripts in.
I didn't intend for it to be a fast-fast, more like a Daniel Diet, but I have prayed a lot. Cutting caffeine, meat, eggs, caffeine, leavened bread, caffeine, all sweeteners, preservatives, caffeine, AND ALL DAIRY (read: happiness) will increase your prayer life.
The first week is a breeze. Fresh fruit for breakfast again!? Score!
The second week is more challenging, and you start trying weird stuff like vegan cheese. By the third week you want to punch all the almond milk cartons in the face and if you never see a Chocolate Coconut Larabar again it will be too soon.
Here's what I learned: I learned what a Chinese Grapefruit is. And I learned that the point of food is to nourish.
I have a first-world, American,view of food. I like variety, experience, and dairy. I plan my meals like I create playlists for my iPhone: a little of this, a little of that, rise and fall, the perfect mix. Italian, then roast chicken and veggies, then taco night, then salads, then pork chops, then stir fry. And dairy with everything: half and half in my coffee, feta on salads, muenster on sandwiches, butter on bread, sour cream to garnish everything.
I also like to love my food. Because, right? But for the last three weeks, I had significantly less variety. I had zero dairy. And I ate foods I didn't love. When I started to get grumpy and hangry, I gently reminded myself, It's just food; it's job is to nourish. If you're full and healthy, that is enough.
In 3 weeks I learned in actuality what I knew hypothetically: that it's okay to eat things simply for nourishment, not for love. Food is just food. It's great to enjoy it, seeing as you have to eat it every single day of your life, and seeing as there are so many creative and interesting things one can do with a tomato - but it's also okay to have clementines and almonds for breakfast EVERY SINGLE DAY for a month. It will nourish you, and that's the point.
I've introduced dairy into my life again, albeit in smaller doses, plus caffeine and a little sugar. With them comes a whole wide world of culinary possibilities. But I'm thankful for the lesson, and I'm carrying it with me.
When we use things in ways they're not meant to be used things get messed up. When luxury sports cars go muddin', they get messed up. When you wear dress shoes to play basketball, things - like ankles - get messed up. When parents use their kids accomplishments to feel better about their own lives, things get messed up. When people use money to make themselves happy, or use other people as props to get what they want, things get messed up.
And when we use food for comfort, when we use it to numb us, distract us, or get us high, things get messed up. When we use it to control, or to starve, or to punish, or to reward, things get messed up. Food is for nourishing. Nourishing bodies, nourishing relationships around the table, nourishing souls. And when we use is properly, it's good. It's really, really good.