Imagine yourself being able to create a masterpiece of astounding art. One that prickles at the skin of any onlooker, a painting so intense that you can’t think of NOT staring at it. Now, captivate in your mind this very undeniable piece of art being painted…upside down in front of your eyes! Brush after stroke, having no idea how it will all turn out.
I recently embarked on a 21 day fast (a period of time giving up something) that distracts me from focus, prayer, and introspect along with my church. For some, this may be food, wine, soda, or swearing, but for me, my great distraction is Social Media. Oh, how I love to demonstrate to the world how I am loveable, I have talents, my children’s smiles and a great batch of cookies that turned out on par splattered all over a platform that allows me to. I love the likes, comments, and affirmation that I am accepted. Like a drug, it can take up time, focus, and has the ability to rule my thinking; creating a pendulum of reality and a facade. After deciding that I would only eat fruit, veggies, and nuts for 21 days, and then almost passing out at work due to low blood sugar, I had some OJ, concluding I was eliminating the wrong distraction. For, when I was hungry and irritable for the first two days of my fast, I found myself scrolling endlessly on Facebook, looking for some answers, I mean this is the internet, right? Immediately I knew I was giving up the wrong distraction and deleted all social media apps from my phone.
An urge swelled, a deep desire to post a picture of my adorable kids coining a quirky and loveable caption on Instagram, occurred pretty much the second I swore off my fix. I put my iPhone down and actually lived in the moment of their laughter and joyous play. Okay, I can do this. Live in the moment instead of foreseeing the likes that could pour in after a second in time played out in front of me that I will never see again. In that, I realized that every stage in time is bottled up waiting to explode in a brilliant color. Quite possibly anticipating to expand our hearts and reshape our thinking. Day one of fasting a venue that I love so much was a success.
Moving on to the next level of what a fast truly calls us to was a bit of a challenge. God’s purpose for a fast is to cling to Him in prayer and His word when our belly groans, or in my case, a surge of online approval screams. My first Saturday night without such pleasure, I found myself lying on the floor of my bathroom, while I would have usually been wasting my time scrolling away… but this night I found myself…praying.
Focus Ami, you can do this.
My mind wandered…what will I wear to church tomorrow?
Okay, God, I’m here, and kinda want to…talk.
In that introverted moment, I rallied all of the courage I had been meaning to have for months asking Him to reveal something to me in past that I know I’ve blocked out. A security blanket of black, to protect a fragile little girl who wasn’t ready to peer into the mirror of an iniquity seeming to be far too reaching to process.
Lord, I’m ready. Let me see it, all of it. No matter what it may be I know you are here…with me.
In the essence of vulnerability, He allowed me to remember. He showed me a vivid vision of my four-year-old self-experiencing an intrusion I’d obstructed from my memory bank, yet somehow knew had always taken place. Jumping up off the floor I instinctively cried out for the one person in the world who I knew could make it all better. My husband.
“Alan!” A shrill astounded throughout twenty-three hundred square foot home.
Two seconds later, he appeared. “What is wrong, baby?”
“Just hold me. God will do the rest.”
I didn’t sleep into the trenches of Sunday, wondering if this really was a good idea, as I couldn’t erase the image from playing out in my mind over and over again.
Monday brought more unveiling of anguish, un known battles that were being fought while I lived in bliss. I felt as if what I relied on for affirmation was punching me in the face, talking behind my back, and shunning me at every avenue. Unbeknownst to me apparently I wasn’t doing as great of a job as I thought, mulling through my everyday routine. There were things I could change, improve on, love more, talk less, and humble myself before.
Sunday at church I sought out Pastor Kevin as soon as I saw his six foot five frame gleaming at the door of our large church, waiting for someone who may need God’s provision.
ME, yes please HELP ME! I ran to him.
“PK, is it normal to have the enemy attack you big time during this fast?”
His steely introspective blue eyes met mine and a smirk covered his face as he quipped,“Tell me something I don’t know.”
So this chaos is normal in my obedience?
In that realization, licking my fresh wounds I decided, fine, I’ll just be like everyone else. During my uncomfortable state of being called out by God…on what seemed to be pretty much everything, I drafted a version of me that wasn’t even close to who God made me. If I act different, I will be loved, right? Sullen, downcast, introverted, not to mention pitifully sad, I dragged myself through the next three days. Those around me couldn’t help but assume I was sick, filled with an anguish of a lost loved cat, or by chance they rejoiced at the apparent lack of my usually annoying joy.
Embarking on week two of this painful and deeply confusing fast, it became clear to me that I was not only being beat up Rocky Balboa style by the enemy but also by myself. Like a brick slammed into my face-God showed me that I was clearly missing the point.
For, this time was intended for me to sacrifice, turn inward and run closer to God in order for Him to allow me to stretch. Further than I could have ever imagined, as we rarely spread our wings to the point of ache in times of contentment. I surrendered to the power of Truth and found the smile on my face once again, no matter the revelations of past pain, inequities I may be responsible for, and decided to take ownership of it.
Pain has been given when I didn’t deserve it, and I have brought some storms on others. So, in prayer, I cried out to God as to how I may stretch and grow so I can rectify pain I may have caused others?
God clearly spoke to me through two wise women. My mentor and dear friend, my mom in Nevada both voiced that I needed to humble myself and do what we all hate to do when we realize we were infinitely wrong. Apologize for my wrong doings and forgive the pain forged upon me.
Ugh, really? Yeah, um no thanks, God. They hurt me, I didn’t ask for any of this!
“Yes you did, the moment you decided to come back to me. This is how I heal, how I move. Through Truth.” God declared in my time of deep reflection.
Finally, I may be catching on. This fast isn’t only for me to stop posting dinner plates on Instagram. It is an outlet for me to heal, prosper, and feel pain I need to embrace in order to forgive.
Week three found me sicker than a dog (whatever that means) with a head cold that fogged my mind, and weakened my body. As I laid in bed, departed from my usual routine of phone in hand, I answered God, Fine, I’ll do it. I’ll say I’m sorry.
After crying out to my mentor for guidance as to how to navigate such an arduous venture she insisted we meet in the prayer room at church after service. In this still, dim lit, cozy room hung a painting of Jesus that escaped my breath at the mere beauty of it. Jesus’ eyes were fixated on me in a telling way, as if He could see right past all of my turmoil and the disobedience of the past. I prayed with my friend, felt His anointing in my life, and left through the narrow door believing that where I am, is where I am supposed to be.
Days later my pastor told me that the life size painting in the prayer room of Jesus was painted upside down by an artist during a church service years ago.
How on earth did a painter create such an awe striking canvas filled with a divine view of Jesus looking upon up us, from the wrong side up?
As I sat in that very room on the last day of my 21 day fast with my husband, God revealed to me how He used the artist to create something so far reaching, upturned. It is how He works. While we are dizzy from seeing the world from our own point of view, the reality we chose to live in, Jesus craves for us to see it from His perspective.
The church onlookers must have been in awe as the canvas was flipped right side up, thus showcasing the compassionate, loving, and sacrificing eyes of Jesus staring back at them. Who knew such a possibility of greatness, could be formed from the bottom up? God does and that is often how He works miracles in our lives.
For that is how He cries out for us to live our whole lives. Having no clue what will come of it, except burying deep in our hearts that if we trust, obey, are faithful, and submit we can be turned around and displayed as His perfect masterpiece.