Fasting leads to Tantrums

I am terrible at fasting. I don’t know if there’s a way to be good at it, but I definitely know I fall short of that mark. Every time I embark on a fast I realize I have the emotional maturity of a toddler after missing just one meal. For a while I rationalized why fasting wasn’t needed, after all, I can still pray and talk to God without skipping lunch. Right?

Two weeks ago I was challenged by a pastor (via his Instagram story) to fast one day a week, at least until sundown. He argued that fasting was something that Jesus did, something He tells us to do, and that it brings a focus in on what you’re praying about. Fasting also provides the added character development of foregoing pleasure, of building endurance to wait and be patient.

Knowing this discipline was something I have always struggled with I picked a day, Wednesdays. Well last week I did Thursday, but that is beside the point. I set out to hold off eating until sundown. The day progressed fairly well, I think mostly due to me spending most of the day travelling to New York from Central Pennsylvania and having slept in late. As the day drew on (mind you this was the day after the longest day of the year) I got hungry, and anxious. Last Thursday was the day I met with a potential roommate to see if the place was a right fit and whether I was a good fit for the roommate. I knew I would have a home in the City, I mean I had to, it was just a matter of it being good.

A year ago I began to get restless about where I was living. There was a lot happening and I was just ready to move out and into Manhattan. I started doing prayer walks around the Upper West Side, praying and hoping for some miraculous apartment to open up to me. I knew it would be a longer commute to the Starbucks I was working at, but I was ready to be in a new environment. As is often the case with my prayers the answer came indirectly while answering another prayer. I got a promotion.

My store manager recommended that I apply for a position as a Roaster Operator (technically it’s the machine that’s called a Coffee Roaster, I just tell the machine what to do) for the Reserve Roastery being built in Chelsea. I put it off, disregarding the opportunity. It was a different career path than what I moved to the city for in the first place, well mostly (but more on that later). Plus, I had no coffee roasting knowledge, other than it happened. A few weeks later he announced that He got the role of Operations Supervisor for the Roastery and again strongly recommended that I apply for the position. I am glad he did.

I’ve spent the last eight months learning how to roast coffee in Pennsylvania and Seattle. This opportunity has afforded me the ability for that change I was praying for, albeit not in the way I imagined. As my training drew to a close I began to think more towards housing in New York, where I would live, how I would live. I wanted to live in the Upper West Side in a studio to myself, while my promotion does have a significant pay increase, it is not Upper West Side studio level pay. In Seattle I started to get more anxious looking at different sites for places, I had wonderful friends send me recommendations as well as more sites to peruse. I had a lot to sift through and only two weeks to figure it out.

Moving to New York, even moving in New York, is not something you can plan far in advance. It’s not something you look at six months ahead, not even three months ahead. Most brokers will tell you not to even try looking until you’re within a month of your move in day. The last time I moved to the city I left on a missions trip three weeks before I had to move out not knowing where I was going to be. On that trip I met my former roommates for the first time and made a move in agreement.

Thursday, last week, I began my trek back to the city. I hadn’t eaten breakfast, nor had I eaten lunch. I determined I would meet with the potential roommate and follow it with a meal to break my fast. Life can seem overwhelming when you’re driving through Manhattan, hungry and worried where you’re going to live. I knew I would like this place, I just had this instinct that I would love the neighborhood. And part of me was bummed because I was still slightly hoping for an 11th hour UWS-Studio-apartment-in my-budget miracle, and I knew that I would love the neighborhood and want to give up on the Upper West (technically Washington Heights is just Upper Upper Upper West Side).

Throughout this housing process, I was going through this crisis of faith. Bear with me on this. I was thinking that since I prayed for an apartment in a specific neighborhood (I walked around a five block radius) and this job came miraculously God would provide the optimum apartment and it would be this great moment of glory for Him. I could say, “I prayed for this apartment, and I shouldn’t be able to afford it, but look at what He did”. So I worried that if I settled for anything less, God wouldn’t get as much glory. If I’m being honest, God’s still getting the glory, I’m just getting less, and other people won’t be as jealous of me.

I have this desire to be well liked by everyone and I want people to see that good things are still coming to me. I want people not to think, “Oh he gave up acting because he couldn’t get a part for three years”, but I want them to just be amazed at where my story is going. My vanity is at stake. Not getting the miraculous, unnecessary apartment, is a blow to my pride, not God’s glory. He still answered my prayer, and He got me a place in Manhattan with views of the Hudson and a beautiful bridge.

To be quite honest, the apartment I got is probably more what I want. It’s convenient access to the city, but feels like a slight retreat away, with some breathtaking views. I digress.

By the time I reached the potential apartment, I was hungry and anxious, not a good combo. I loved the neighborhood. I knew I would. And I really liked the apartment. The room looked big enough to house my books, there’s a washer/dryer in unit, there are lots of trees everywhere. It’s amazing. Now I just had to impress the potential roommate. I think we hit it off. Following the tour of the apartment, we went on a tour of the neighborhood, and closed off with something to drink and for me, something to eat.

I was very candid, I told him, I was interested but I would be viewing another place the following day. He responded in kind by telling me he also would be meeting with another potential roommate the next day. We agreed to confer after.

To add a little more chaos, I was driving up to Connecticut the next day to meet with my grandparents and my aunt and uncle. After viewing the awesomely located closet of a room on 80th st, I drove north. I knew I wanted the apartment in Washington Heights, I was just hoping I could eke out the competition.

I did.

In another episode of anxious Manhattan driving I was able to give the security deposit to my new roommate. I have a home.

So, back in Pennsylvania for the week packing and tidying up until I can move in. Today I am fasting. And I say this not as a pat on the back for me, or to show off how spiritual I am, but in reality to recognize how unspiritual I am, and how bad I am at fasting.

I’m hungry and cranky. It seems it has taken little time at all to forget how awesome God is, all He has done for me in dying on the cross and on top of that all He continues to do in my life. I forget these things easily because I haven’t had a sandwich.

You know that feeling when you know you’re being irrational but you can’t stop because it’s consuming your thoughts?

Me either….

But really, what I am learning over and over. God is so good and I am a petulant child that He loves anyway. He is redeeming me, rebuilding me, no matter how long it takes to wait out my temper tantrums. And He’s so patient.

I’m trying to see what’s next. I’m trying to budget better. I am trying to love people better, open up and be vulnerable. I realize over and over again that I am more worried about how people see me than I am. I panic about how people’s perceptions of me might change, and it’s funny because I don’t even know what your perceptions are…

I watched this cooking competition show and one of the contestants always seems to have it together, he makes a delicious and beautiful finished product. On one of the last episodes his dessert fell apart and he didn’t have a back up. He fell apart. One of the other competitors, was shocked and tried to reassure him. The perfectionist chef managed to put it back together. I resonated with the chef because he keeps it cool and collected until something goes wrong and he crumbles.

Fasting reminds me: I am not as cool and collected as I think I am, but God is always there for me.

Advertisements

Overdraft

You learn a lot about what you need when you have nothing. I have mentioned before how I have been living on nothing, or what seems like nothing for all of 2014 and the last bit of 2013. You see, I gave my all, or at least what I thought was my all, to take a leap of faith. I quit my job and lived off of fumes waiting anxiously for my FAFSA check that wouldn’t come, at least not yet. Then in the process of finding a job to live off of, I was offered a round trip plane ticket to see my parents for Christmas.

“I have to get a job,” I tell myself, “I can’t afford to fly across the country.” I also convinced myself that I needed the isolation to learn why it is the timing was wrong for New York. I refused the tickets, at first, but you know this, what you don’t know is what I was praying. You see after coming to the realization that I was not moving I prayed that I could get paid to do the work I do on campus here at Ignite. I prayed, but I did not hope. I had already caused enough issues with everyone on campus with the moving and not moving, plus why should they pay the performing arts intern?

When I accepted the plane tickets I knew that I would be delaying my opportunity to get a job in town, so I hoped that it would give me time and perhaps my prayer would be answered. I went home without money, then a check went through I thought had already gone through. I went into overdraft, then I was fined, then five days later I got another fine. I tried to call and get it removed, but it did not happen. I returned to school over drafted. I applied to multiple places in town and called them diligently. To be honest I don’t know why I keep trying it this way. When my sister began looking for jobs, my mom always told her to call them, it makes your name stand out. Every job I have done that with has not panned out; however, every job that I have gotten has always been nothing short of miraculous. I’ve skipped interviews, been given a better position before being hired, been called within two days from a state where I was moving, been called within the day I applied and then my current job.

This first week back was difficult. I anxiously applied for jobs and God consistently reminded me not to worry. He also managed to take care of my needs during this time. Laundry and gas money when I needed it and food for every meal. I began to learn about living with just my basic needs met. During this week, I also had this nagging feeling, that I needed to talk to the director of the school, that I needed to ask for a stipend to pay for my necessities. I had learned to live with little, so I planned to do that until my FAFSA money really came, or my tax return, whichever came first.

When I finally mustered up the courage to ask, I was approved immediately. There was some grant money for resident interns that I would be eligible to receive. I was elated, it was more than I had asked for or budgeted. It was also around this time that I got an opportunity to work in the school cafe to pay for my meal plan. I was so blessed. Then I found out last week that my Credit Card payment was overdue, so they fined me.

I was worried, but I knew it would be okay. I had not received any stipend at this point. My needs were still being taken care of and now that I was working in the cafe I ate more than enough every meal. I had even filed my taxes, but my return would not be available until after the 31st of January, today.

Today, I got paid my first stipend. Today I am no longer in overdraft. Praise God.

I have learned something so significant in this time, three things really. One: God works in weird ways to provide you with wonderful opportunities (I am paid to do what I love, administration and the arts). Two: I know how to live well on very little. Three: God always provides, even if it’s not how you think.

Oh and to just add to see how great God is, the verse of the Day on my Bible app is Malachi 3:10, look it up…

Training

Yesterday, I realized again how my life is extremely blessed. The day started off innocuous enough. I woke up earlier than I intended, had a spoon of peanut butter for breakfast and read my Bible. I learned in a quick moment of how Jesus was such a catalyst in the lives of the disciples. They had jobs and lives before Jesus walked by them. At first, they followed for his natural charisma, then they were hooked when they believed he was the Messiah, the one to restore the throne of David in Israel, to overthrow the oppressors. At some point in this, they realized that he was not the military leader they thought, and yet they continued to follow him. Why? He was changing them, and they couldn’t get enough of it.

I left my apartment. The door was locked on the office building at the school I work at, because I don’t possess a key, I wandered into the common recreation area. I opened my computer with the full intention of getting started on whatever I needed to accomplish for the day. But, as is the norm, Facebook beckoned with all of it’s promise of social interaction. I was surprised when I heard the conversation window *pop* open. A friend, and fellow blogger, was commending me on the blogging I had begun to do. “It’s great to see you in your journey with God”. Blessed. We began to talk about life and ministry, the call of God on our lives and where that had taken us in our respective journeys. I began to lament a little that I was still not yet in New York and how that desire caused a restlessness in my heart and spirit.

She said that the burning desire was so that I would never settle anywhere that wasn’t where I am supposed to be, that I wouldn’t settle for anything less than the place God is taking me. It rang true. I have been realizing more recently these patterns in my life. God will move me somewhere out of my comfort zone but then I begin to sink into a pattern of living, I adjust and become comfortable. When God first laid New York on my heart I was ablaze, I had so many ideas and plans. I visited the city for the first time and I became overwhelmed, but I knew it was wonderful still, I felt at home in a city I had never been. Then I arrived in Virginia at what seemed to be one of the more awkward and challenging periods of my life. And yet, I adjusted.

When I returned to New York that winter God spoke to me and told me that he was giving the city into my hands. (This is a pretty audacious claim, but I felt it more than anything else). I was determined to live there that summer. I did. And in that summer I learned something. I was scared of the calling. I loved being in the city, but I let it get to me. I allowed myself to fall into a self-defeating attitude. This reached it’s zenith at the end of the summer. As I was preparing to go home for a bit before returning to school, God began to challenge me. He asked me what my response would be if He asked me to stay. I told Him I could not, because I wasn’t ready. I hadn’t learned enough, matured enough yet. I wasn’t ready for the city. He told me I was, but that he would let me go back. It was here when I realized how much I had adjusted to my training ground.

As if to make me so ready and raring to get back, almost immediately upon returning to school was I ready to go back to New York. I kept telling myself, “One more year and then I’ll go”. I got more than one year. I am now nearly at two years from my summer in New York. I thought I was moving, I readied myself to go, but then I was to stay longer. Looking back now at last semester I am beginning to wonder if the sole purpose of that itch, that feeling, that it was time to go was just to get me unsettled enough for me to realize: “This is my training ground, not my battlefield”

Now, I sit and work anxiously waiting for the door to open, for my deployment letter to come and I realize how wonderful it is to know where I am going. To top it off, my final training, I am getting paid to do what I love. To finish out my day from yesterday, after talking with a friend and co-leader at this school he commissioned me to write a skit. That afternoon I sat down and wrote one out. It didn’t take long and it wasn’t extremely deep or significant, but I got to sit and write as a part of what I do here at this school. Who can say that as a college senior they helped develop and helm a fine arts department at a burgeoning private college? I can, but get this: this is my training.