Today was stressful for us, we are trying to buy a house, and (as we all know) that's a roller coaster. There were other anxiety causing situations as well and I found myself deep in the pit of anxious thoughts today. On top of that, I had to see and smell food all day long, while I drank my water and wished I was doing anything other than fasting. But I finished Day 3, and I felt stronger about it than I felt yesterday. May tomorrow be even stronger. In the meantime, I wanted to say a few words about that pesky anxiety.
I am definitely among those who would rather escape into a distraction than pray when I'm anxious. The spiritual counsels of St. Paisios of Mt Athos have been the most helpful spiritual thing I've read for dealing with the constant hum and then spikes of anxiety that I feel for as long as I can remember.
"If we work to correct ourselves and look more intently towards our "inner" activity rather than our external, giving precedence to d...
The war in my thoughts definitely came. I kept the fast today and found it easier to remember to pray, to get less bogged down in distracting myself. Work gave me something productive to do today that proved very helpful. I knew the evening would be a lot harder. And it has been.
I started today reading Matthew 6 and paying attention to the connections between prayer, fasting, almsgiving and not being anxious about one's life. Those passages were a comfort and helpful redirection at several points during the day. The war is between nihilistic and anxious thoughts. They sort of take turns.
How to cope to with them?
For most of my life I've tried distraction - food, music, a show... when I was younger video games were a solid way out. We all have our favorite, right? I still think none of those things are wrong in themselves, I just know I've used them as a way to escape from the war in my thoughts rather than facing them and dealing with them through prayer.
I decided today to start a fast. My goal is to make it the whole month. I aim to do a water fast for the first week and then continue to water fast on the Church’s fasting days the rest of month and eat only raw fruits or vegetables the rest of the month.
Why am I doing this?
Food is tied up with a lot of spiritual demons and fears for me. Some people might have a hard time understanding that, but I didn’t have a very disciplined way of eating growing up. I have had, to this date, a typically unhealthy American diet of too much fast food and indulgence.
One of the first times this problem really struck me as a spiritual problem was in seminary when one of my professors was preaching in chapel on John 6:25-40. The homily was about Christ as the daily bread of the believer. He said the crowd expected a feast and He called them to a fast. At the tree in the garden of Eden the devil awakened in Adam a desire for a feast without a fast. At the tree of the cross Jesus finishes and...