Wednesday, March 31, 2010


My next-door neighbors moved out last weekend. I mentioned that in another post. I looked at their house last night and choked up a bit. Why? Well, it bums me out that Luke will no longer have a playmate right next door; their son was two months older. I know that we'll still get the boys together, but it won't be the same. It just won't be.

But it's more than just that. It's also more than the fact that they were incredibly nice, and that they always had whatever it was we needed to borrow (a really tall ladder, an extra set of hands to move a couch, lemon pepper, a single egg).

Part of why it is difficult for me to see them go is dealing with the unknown of who will move in.

I can't control that. I can't control if they will be equally nice, or whether they'll be close to us in age. I don't know that they'll take good care of the house, like our previous neighbors did. I don't know that they won't throw loud parties. I can't control if they have yippy dogs. Or an RV that they'll want to park in the front yard.

This is, I'm sure, the kind of swallow stuff everyone worries about when they get new neighbors. We hope they are nice, friendly, upstanding, all of that. But we also hope that their habits and lifestyle don't infringe on our own too badly.

Maybe some people worry about that less than others. As I walked around the block last night with Luke, for some reason, something dawned on me that hasn't in some time: on the scale of control freaks, I can rank fairly high.

It makes me anxious when I don't get to have my way. To choose my own path. To set the limits. To have the last word. I want to be in control not just of myself, but of the environment all around me.

I say all this now because it has more to do with my reaction to my neighbors leaving. It is likely also the root reason I have held off on once-a-quarter fast until today.

I don't like giving up control, even of what food I put into my mouth. Not to anyone -- including God.

To say this is standing in the way of my spiritual development is an understatement. It is THE reason I fail to grow. It is the wall standing between me and an authentic relationship with our creator. I just don't want to let anyone besides myself be in charge.

And so. I don't pray. Why pray about something, when I can just take care of it on my own? Even if I can't... I can try! And so. I haven't, until today, fasted.

I tried a few times. There was last week. Then yesterday, I tried again. I decided first of all, that coffee is OK. Because I don't want to give that part of control over to God. Then I thought I better take a vitamin. The problem with that is you're not supposed to take them on an empty stomach. And so within 15 minutes, I was nauseous. And cramming handfuls of cereal into my mouth. Fast, over.

Then came the light bulb last night: as I watched my son bang a long stick into a really tall tree, I thought, Damn, I can be such a control junkie. Was it because he'd strayed just one step off the sidewalk, breaking our walk rule? I don't know. I wish I had some crystal-clear moment to share. All I know is the thought came, and it stuck.

I know God is gracious. He gets me. He forgives me. I do love him. I do want to learn to depend on him. So today, I'm trying again.

So far, so good. I did have my coffee. Other than that, nothing but water. It's almost 2 p.m., and I'm famished. Dizzy, too. It's been a long time since I've felt real hunger. This is probably not even it.

A phrase I read in Richard Foster's book The Celebration of Discipline keeps running through my mind. It was something like, "The stomach is like a spoiled brat. You can't give in to it whenever it wants something." I keep daydreaming of food, especially now that I'm at home. It's hard not to give and go raid the pantry.

But if my stomach is a spoiled brat, it's because I am one, too. The bossy kind, who thinks she knows it all and should be in charge.

In total control. 

It's just an 18-hour-fast.

But it feels like I'm opening up my hands a little, palms facing figuratively up to the sky. Give it to God.

Today, I'm trying to let someone else be in charge.

1 comment:

  1. You sound like me...about the neighbors, the control issue, and the failure to grow.

    But, I have yet to fast... :(


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