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The Joys of the Fast  June 7, 2005

Jenn/Steve — June 7 @ 2:03pm

I can admit it: I love fast Sunday. The idea of sacrifice, of laying those two meals on the altar and making covenants with our Heavenly Father—it is my favorite time of worship.

And so, this post is about my roommate, of course.

You may remember Melanie. We’ve known each other since I moved to the city, and she has been a good friend to me. If I got up to the stand, I would probably be the first to bear my testimony that “I love my roommate…” :) And yet, sometimes she just drives me nuts—especially on fast Sundays.

Melanie typically goes out late Saturday with Aaron, her boyfriend, and stumbles back in early Sunday morning (unless she and Aaron are making out on the couch all night; long story). So she gets up and leaves for church with me at noon, we have a good time at Church, but then she eats right away when she gets back (usually around 3:00). So, the apartment begins to fill with good food aromas (Melanie loves to cook, unfortunately), and I find myself struggling to keep my thoughts straight.

I love this talk by Elder Pratt of the Seventy. There’s a very profound quote in there that I keep in my scriptures:

I fear, brethren, that too many of us are either not fasting on fast day or we are doing so in a lackadaisical manner. If we are guilty of taking our fast day for granted or simply fasting Sunday morning instead of making it two complete meals—24 hours—we are depriving ourselves and our families of the choice spiritual experiences and blessings that can come from a true fast.

“Lackadaisical”—a recent addition to my vocabulary—is the word for Melanie. I really feel like she’s depriving herself of the real benefits of a fast. It’s too bad, because she has so many other things going for her: great job, great boyfriend, great roommate (j/k). Sometimes I find it funny that she has so many blessings, even though she can take things so lightly. I find obedience to be really a central part of my life, even though I struggle, so I can’t help but feel jealous at times. Mel seems to enjoy many, many great things in life even without following the commandments. I can only imagine how happy she could be if she would just try a little harder to live the Law of the Fast.

Any hints on how I can help Melanie enjoy fasting?

18 Comments

  1. I’m not sure what your objection is. Is it that her cooking cuts short your fast, or that she is skimping on her own fast?

    I don’t think I’m comfortable with people timing others’ fasts (or even noticing whether they fast), regardless of how close your relationship is.

    NFlanders — June 7, 2005 @ 2:55pm
  2. When I think of long fasts that are fun and easy, I think of one word, Jenn: Phentermine.

    DKL — June 7, 2005 @ 3:07pm
  3. This does not answer your question, Jenn, but my wife has been either pregnant or nursing for over 6 years straight now with no break. She has been unable to fast a full 24 hours during that time because she needs the nutrients to ensure the baby gets the nutrients, and besides that fasting for a prolonged period of time makes her especially weak because of her ever-present pregnant/nursing condition. I hope that other people don’t see her snacking on fast Sunday and assume that she does not catch the vision of the Law of the Fast. She does try to fast by at least skipping something she likes.

    Anyway, maybe your roommate DOES know of the joy of fasting, but has some medical or other condition which makes it too difficult to go without food for 24 full hours.

    It’s totally understandable, though, to desire someone you love to feel the same joy you feel from living a gospel principle. Maybe you could fast with her some Sunday for some common goal you both share. When I have done this with friends, missionary companions, or my spouse (before our first baby and OCCASIONALLY despite nursing and pregnancy) it has been a joyful occasion for all involved, bringing home the joy of the fast to all and binding us closer together in love.

    Just be aware that her body may be different than yours.

    Jordan — June 7, 2005 @ 3:53pm
  4. Alas Jordan, her body is different than mine, thus the boyfriend status.

    Jenn — June 7, 2005 @ 3:55pm
  5. Lol. That was pretty funny Jenn.

    Jordan — June 7, 2005 @ 4:12pm
  6. Thanks for rubbing it in!! :)

    Jenn — June 7, 2005 @ 4:14pm
  7. (funny doesn’t mean true…) :)

    Jordan — June 7, 2005 @ 4:26pm
  8. If it’s hard for you to still be fasting when you smell her 3:00 meal cooking, why not skip dinner Saturday night instead of lunch on Sunday, and then enjoy a meal together after church?

    Mari — June 7, 2005 @ 4:33pm
  9. Mari- that is a nice approach to solidarity.

    Jordan — June 7, 2005 @ 4:40pm
  10. Jenn, I’ve sometimes been you and I’ve sometimes been your roommate in this fasting situation. I’m also a young single professional living with LDS roommates (there are 4 of us in my apartment, which sometimes makes things easier–two gets pretty intense sometimes), and the fact of the matter is that we all have different expectations, different backgrounds, different styles of worship, and because we’re not a family (sometimes that’s a consoling thought–I’m not sealed to these girls, even though I like them), we don’t have to try to create a shared worship culture in our apartment. i think that’s one of the challenges of being single and not having a family–but also one of the opportunities. You have an opportunity to model for Melanie what a real fast is, and you also have the opportunity to try to understand where she’s coming from and why she does what she does. I think that often when we try to understand the origins of people’s behavior, we can love them more, have charity for them more. I agree with NFlanders that, quite honestly, it’s none of our business how long anyone else fasts. But I also think that living with peers gives us an unparalleled opportunity to learn from each other, to teach each other, to love people we don’t necessarily choose, and to tolerate lots of different things. So perhaps tolerance is the best advice I could give you–tolerance and charity.

    Naomi Frandsen — June 7, 2005 @ 4:44pm
  11. To second Naomi’s suggestions on teaching: it’s quite possible that your roommate doesn’t know that a full fast is to last 24 hours. Or perhaps she is more up-to-date on current nutritional guidelines, which suggest that rather than three big meals, one eats five or six smaller ones throughout the day. Then she could easily be skipping two meals in her mind.

    I think that in either of these cases, if she is living the fast to her understanding of it, she will be fully blessed and enjoy the same benefit you do. (I wonder, too, if she might be contemplating right now exactly which blessings you’re missing out on by some difference in practice you exhibit.)

    Justin H — June 7, 2005 @ 4:58pm
  12. I wish that I could retract so much in this post. Melanie really is a good friend, and even with her name changed for the blog I feel bad venting like this about her in public. Just forget all I said!!

    …but yes, suggestions are still welcome :) Thanks BTW Naomi for the advice, I guess I find it difficult to take lessons from Mel sometimes because she really does crosses some lines for me.

    Jenn — June 7, 2005 @ 5:10pm
  13. No need to retract your post, Jenn. It brings up issues that, quite frankly, all of us single women think about. It’s nice to be able to vent somewhere, right? Better than bottling it all up and then exploding at her about something little. It’s so funny who Heavenly Father chooses to teach us the lessons we need. Sometimes it’s not who we want to learn them from. Okay, I’m starting to sound abominably self-righteous, so enough of this. Off to eat a big dinner and make out with my boyfriend all night on the couch :) (j/k–wish I could do that!)

    Naomi Frandsen — June 7, 2005 @ 5:16pm
  14. I used to argue with my roommates about whether eating and then vomiting counted as fasting. My roommates insisted that it did. But I think even just chewing on food and spitting it out breaks a fast. Basically, if saliva touches it and you swallow that saliva, then you’ve metabolized some portion of it, and therefore your fast is finished. My roommates said that this meant I was too interested in rules. I think their point of view makes them emetophiles.

    DKL — June 7, 2005 @ 6:19pm
  15. Basically, if saliva touches it and you swallow that saliva, then you’ve metabolized some portion of it, and therefore you’re fast is finished.

    DKL, if you really believe that, I hope you never move to my ward. We already have too many members who think that breath mints are a violation of the fast!

    Mark — June 7, 2005 @ 8:05pm
  16. Call me a hypocrite, Mark, but I enjoy a tasty mint from time to time even on fast Sunday.

    DKL — June 7, 2005 @ 10:37pm
  17. My friend raises her eyebrows when I break out the piece of gum on fast Sunday. I just laugh at her (she raises her eyebrows a lot). It’s a matter of hygiene, the gum–and less than a mint.

    I think in fasting, the spirit of the law is more important than the letter. For our family, at least, we have to look at it that way. I can fast for days (except for the gum for the breath), but my husband and daughter have pretty serious hypoglycemia, and do well to go without two meals. He’s often ill that day when he totally abstains. We approach it prayerfully and feel the Lord is with us in our effort.

    One thing I try to do is avoid cooking something that takes a long time (ie, roast) that will tempt with good smells. I will get something that is quick and tasty, like, oh, a bottle of alfredo sauce and shrimp and fettucine.

    But Jenn, I’m with you on the spiritual benefits of fasting. My entire family was struggling with several issues a few years back, we are all over the country, but we picked a day and we all fasted. Two are different religions, but we all fasted and prayed together for our family. It was an extraordinary spiritual experience. My sister’s Catholic boyfriend’s sister actually joined us.

    annegb — June 8, 2005 @ 8:25am
  18. “Off to eat a big dinner and make out with my boyfriend all night on the couch.”

    Woah. Well, I was there for the first part of it . . . :)

    Matt Bowman — June 8, 2005 @ 7:20pm

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