My friend Sammy and I are undertaking Jen Hatmaker's 7 Bible study for the next two months. For seven weeks, we will be participating in challenges and fasts from excess and the American Dream. Already, we are gaining a new perspective on wealth and giving, as well as fasting. You can purchase the workbook here. I totally recommend this Bible study.
I'm going to be writing each week about what I learn from this, not so that I can boast in these challenges (after all, I know how weak I am in so many of these areas! I am going to be soaking up these lessons like a sponge), but because I want to encourage each of you to evaluate excess and places of worship in your own life.
While I will be sharing my own learning experiences while undergoing these challenges, I still encourage you to consider purchasing the actual Bible study. Sammy and I have tweaked each challenge to our own lives and there is so much more to be learned from Jen Hatmaker's words of wisdom.
This week's challenge was food. Sammy and I will be eating from only seven foods over the next seven days.
Before I go into our experience, let me first say that combined, Sammy and I are probably the two pickiest eaters you will ever meet. I struggle to even bear vegetables, Sammy struggles to tolerate fruits, and both of us really prefer things like corn dogs (Sammy), Panda Express (me), and tacos (both of us). Also, Sammy absolutely loves Pepsi, while I'm infatuated with the taste of Dr. Pepper.
We met up on Friday afternoon and mapped out our 7 foods for the week. We agonized over this decision.
When going over the previous week's questions, we came across funny answers for the same question. Basically, we both really, really love food.
My dream list of 7 foods would consist of something like: Cheetos, chips, queso, Poptarts, ice cream, soda, and steak, but I wasn't going to choose this list for a couple of reasons. One, I don't actually eat that unhealthy every day and I would like to pursue simplicity and healthiness this week. Two, this is a fast from excess, so I don't want to buy into a lot of delicious, fatty foods just because they're what I like.
After about an hour of brainstorming and narrowing down longer lists, Sammy and I came up with this:
Our only "cheats" would be that I'm having vanilla yogurt and Sammy is having strawberry yogurt. Neither of us could bear to eat the unflavored, sour kind. Jen Hatmaker also included this, so we will allow salt, pepper, and olive oil as seasoning.
We will also be drinking nothing but water, which is a big deal for both of us.
What will life as a college student be without caffeine? We're about to find out.
All of this is worth it. While reading the first week's Intro study together, we ended up discussing how much we actually spend on soda. I spend approximately $2 (perhaps a little less) on a soda at a restaurant or a store once a day, while more than half the world lives on less than $2 a day. What a selfish person I am to think, however subconsciously, that I am more valuable than over half the world! If I were to save that $2 a day I spend on my Dr. Pepper for a year, I would have just under enough to sponsor two children through Christian Relief Fund.
What makes my comforts worth more than the lives of vulnerable children around the world?
After a long discussion, Sammy and I went to the store and bought food for the week. It ended up looking like quite a lot, but part of this is because it's difficult to get small amounts of each item. Our "week" of ingredients may actually last us quite a bit longer. But this was the result of our shopping spree (gnome and scarecrow not included):
By the first day, Sammy and I were already feeling inclined to complain, which was not our intention for this challenge at all. We decided to each memorize a Bible passage to stick up around our living spaces and say to ourselves when we feel like whining.
Sammy chose Philippians 4:11-13, which says, "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength."
I chose Psalm 107:8-9, which says, "Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things."
One concern of ours was that we would spend our time daydreaming about the soda and good foods we're missing. This isn't our intention at all. The time we would normally spend on buying and cooking our favorite food we want to spend in prayer and worship. We plan to say our verses over and over whenever we're tempted to moan about our lack of favorite food (which will probably be quite often).
Really, we're so very blessed. Looking at that photograph of food stacked upon Sammy's kitchen table, I cannot help but think how blessed we are to even have this much food to eat in a week, whether or not it's our "favorite." How many people across the world are going without anything today? I have no right to complain about drinking water, a resource that so many people desperately need.
We began the fast on Friday. In a few days, I'll give an update of what I am learning, as well as some of the meals I've had.
If you choose to fast from a food for a week, let me know so I can be in prayer for you as well.
One year ago: Five Things: BTHO Florida
Two years ago: Hair Clips and Instagram
Three years ago: You changed my life.