Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Philippians 4:13

So, I managed to complete 3 full days of my fast. Not quite the five I set out to do, but I am still proud of my accomplishment. Day 2 was much more difficult than the first. I was hungry and tired all day. I noticed myself getting short with people, especially my son, and I knew then that 5 days was going to be difficult. I forced myself to go to bed early that night and good thing I did, I slept awful, and I was extremely tired the following day, day 3. I researched all of these symptoms and quickly discovered that they are defined side affects of fasting. After much soul searching and thinking I decided that it was time to end the fast and begin my new life as a well eating and motivated individual.

I finished the three day fast and was able to understand and reflect upon exactly how it could be a deeply spiritual and uplifting experience. It certainly has restored my faith in ways I didn't expect. I found myself engrossed in reading the Bible and understanding the stories within with a deeper respect and understanding for the faith these men had. On a side note, I highly recommend a version of the Bible called "The Message." It reads so easily and has given me a new understanding of sections which were choppy and messy to me before. I am coming from a KJV background though.

Here we are some number of days later, and I am finally getting around to posting. This is because last week was an incredibly busy week for me, and I finally have time to sit and reflect upon it.

Monday and Tuesday I went to the gym. This is something I have not done since April when I hurt my back. Having a herniated disc and dealing with the handicap it has given me is something I never understood when others told me about debilitating pain. I was, at times, in so much pain I could not move into a comfortable position, never mind sleep... I entered a deep pit of depression and the only thing that brought me joy... food. I ballooned way up to my highest weight ever the beginning of July. I returned from a week vacation at the Cape and I looked at myself and the pictures from this vacation and I felt sick. I felt like a complete and total failure. I was huge, like a big round ball with a beer in my hand. I looked awful. This is not the image I want my son to think of when he thinks of Dad. There is a parity here as well...

One of my closest friends has been diligently going to the gym for some time now and he is reaping the benefits of it for sure. During the Cape trip there were pictures of us playing boccie' (the best game ever...), with several weeks or maybe even months of lifting under his belt, he looked pretty ripped. At the very least, more cut and trim than he has ever looked. I however, only made him look thinner... I was at least twice his size and felt it, too.

I decided that day that things had to change. My lifestyle needed improvement and I needed to eat right. I began cutting portion size and cutting out late night snacking. I have quickly dropped about 25lbs of the depression weight I put on during the last few months. I feel good, and to no ones surprise my back is much looser and feels way better.

So, like I said, I haven't lifted since April and it feels good to do it again. I missed the gym, the feeling you get after your done, that swollen throbbing, it's fantastic. It is so psychological, you immediately examine yourself, your diet and activity level. I found myself refusing popcorn and chips today at work, a staple of my daily diet when my back was hurt.

I now have a goal, to live a healthy and active life. I want to be a motivated and powerful individual, and the only way I know I can do this is if I live the way I know I should, healthy. I need to be around for my son and hopefully someday for his kids. I don't want to be overweight with diabetes and in a wheel chair because I didn't make good decisions now while I can.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Fasting Day 1 - A Day of Change

Well, today marks my first day of fasting and so far, no sweat. Today is also a big day in the life of my wife. She has been attending cosmetology school for the past nine months and as of 2:00 this afternoon is done. This moment is one she has been looking forward to for quite some time. I don't know if she'll ever understand how proud of her I am. I love my wife, with every fiber of my soul and I am so glad she has found something she is interested in and she pursued it and completed the training to become what she wants to be.

I'm not the most open person in the world, as a matter of fact, I am probably one of the most closed people out there. I have a difficult time expressing how I feel. I think I am afraid of it, intimidated by it. I think it is the pure vulnerability of it. To completely expose myself, my true inner self, is something I don't think I have ever done, even alone. That's partially why the prospect of this blog is so interesting to me. I don't do things like this. I don't keep a journal, or log my thoughts, but I believe in order to change myself, I have to do this.

My point is I don't think I express love and support for my wife enough. She knows I love her and would give my life for her without hesitation, but it's different to know it and to hear it, or feel it. I think this is one of the weak points of our relationship, my inability to express and even understand my feelings. This is something that I have vowed to change, and I have become much better than I once was, but it is a work in progress... so is life.

I love you and am so proud of you, baby. You're an inspiration to me, and the pride of our little family. I look up to you in every way, and I want you to know that.

Today I listened to a sermon, which is something I am going to try to do everyday this week, and it was about Jesus healing the blind and the sick. One of the gentlemen preaching is afflicted with Parkinson's Disease, a disease Michael J. fox has made famous. To hear a man, who is suffering everyday, with a degenerative disease, made me really think about my life and my struggles. I am a fortunate man, one with good health, good friends, and a beautiful family. As I was taking a walk, thinking about the suffering that people are going through, people I know, and people who I don't know, I can't help but thank God for all of my blessings. Perhaps, the spirit of the fast is setting in before the hunger....

Sunday, August 10, 2008

This week should go by FAST!

I am going to attempt to fast for 5 days this week. This is something I have done before and I am looking forward to doing it again. There are several reasons I am going to do this, but primary to gain a central understanding of the emotional, spiritual, and physical cleansing of a fast. Fasting is mentioned several times in the bible, but the one which strikes me as most powerful is the fast Jesus does just before he is tested by Satan.

"Next Jesus was taken into the wild by the Spirit for the Test. The Devil was ready to give it. Jesus prepared for the Test by fasting forty days and forty nights." (Matthew 4)

Jesus prepared for this test with a fast? That is so fascinating. He prepares for a great spiritual battle by becoming physically weak? It just isn't logical. Yet, we are taught that his ways are not our ways, and his thoughts are not our thoughts.

"I don't think the way you think. The way you work isn't the way I work." (Isaiah 55)

Jesus doesn't need the food of man to battle Satan, he needs the food of God. Matthew 5:6 says, "You're blessed when you have worked up a good appetite for God. He's the food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat." So I want to be filled by God... to renew my spirit.

The second reason I'm going to fast is, I want to cleanse my body physically. I have been trying to lose weight since my vacation a few weeks ago. I have done well, but I feel like I need to cleanse and purge all of the garbage from my system and fasting is a proven and inexpensive way to do this. I believe that this physical purge will also help with the spiritual purpose stated above.

My last reason is for weight lose. When I dieted a few years ago and lost a total of 60 lbs, I started with a 2 day fast. This makes me feel like I have a fresh start on eating well and not putting junk into my body. I want to change life by becoming more active and eating better and I believe this will help with that.

I encourage those reading this to try fasting as well, it can be a deeply spiritual and emotional experience. It's a cleansing that is healthy, and is a well documented means of renewing and refreshing the physical body and the soul.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Social Obligations

Aren't social obligations an interesting thing? I mean, when you have to invite a certain person, because they're family... or when you have to go somewhere because it's a family gathering. It's like we have a certain amount of God given freedom, but yet there are certain circumstances where this freedom is trumped and we have to do this.

If God has given us free will, and we are supposed to do what makes us happy, and man's law does not dictate to us social codes and rules, why is there in-born laws and rites of social interactions? I guess that culture and society dictate them to us, but doesn't ones happiness and personal needs take precedence over such dogma? Logically yes, but socially, no. Of course I speak in generalizations, for there are always those who go against family/social guidelines and live quite happily doing so, but even they feel the pressure of these rules.

I have a friend who is desperately seeking joy and fulfillment. He is currently away from his family, at school. This family does not support his decision to stay in school and pursue what drives him as a human being. He is passionate about his studies, and this is after years of finding emotional and spiritual dead ends in what would appear to his family as success. I think this person should be honored and supported by his loved ones, but instead many of his closest family members treat him with a reprimanding nature. Telling him to quit what he is doing and go back to the higher paying, "more successful" job he was once pursuing. This is awful. He has my full support to do what he feels will make him happy, and I express that to him often. He is one of those who toils with this issue of social dogma, and still continues to succeed.

There are other situations that dictate social acceptability as well. Weddings, for example, are often a source of conflict. Do we invite Aunt so-and-so, but not Uncle what's-his-name? Well, if we invite one how do we exclude the other? Cousin dum-dum invited us to his wedding, so we have to invite him to ours. It is this medieval thinking that is fascinating to me.

Thankfully, I do not feel like I am stifled or limited by these type of rules as some are, but I feel them sometimes, as we all do. For some, it rules their lives, and that is sad. Society and the rules that it puts on us are fabulously interesting and great to contemplate and analyze. It's like there are society's rules and the family's rules, and somewhere they derive from each other or in spite of each other.