Every New Year’s Day, my church begins the year with a 21 day Daniel’s fast. It’s based on Daniel 1:8-14:
“But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, ‘I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.’
Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, ‘Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.’ So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.”
I’ve managed to skate away from the Daniel’s fast for the last 2-3 years because I’ve been pregnant and/or nursing since 2007 or 2008. (Who knows?) This is my first year back on. When I was college, I did ‘the Daniel’ –as we called it – in earnest. I’d boil potatoes with no salt. I’d eat a salad with no dressing. Water and (tremendously) diluted juice were how I hydrated myself. So when I moved to Atlanta and saw that the members of our home/head church were eating vegetables WITH ranch dressing and eating savory vegetable soups, I was aghast that I had spent 4 years in self-imposed denial when I was clearly allowed to afford myself some level of comfort. That comfort now allows me to drink tasty fruit smoothies made with soy milk and as many corn chips as I can stuff in my face.
The benefits to the fast have been tremendous. I’ve lost about 7 lbs and can walk comfortably in my heels once again. I’ve increased my water intake. I have regular daily bowel movements. (Under normal circumstances I go twice a week – taking a dump is SUCH a chore) Dr. Oz would agree that these are all good things. However, there is one big drawback to the fast…that being the strength of my breath.
Oh sweet Shiva.
The exclusive diet of corn chips, cashews, peanuts and humus blended with olive oil and garlic do NOTHING to promote pleasant breath. It has a tart, stinging quality to it that only someone who is fasting or been around a person who is fasting can describe. It’s amazing…and not in a good way either. I have been in meetings these last few weeks where I’ve said virtually nothing because I could feel that icky white line that forms around your lips when you haven’t eaten sufficiently in hours. I’ve been forced into one-on-one huddles with perfect strangers where I’ve been reduced to a mumbling mass as I’ve attempted to mask the stench of my breath with my fingers. Who knew the pursuit of holiness, which is supposed to be inundated with beauty, could be so…stinky?
I’d have a breath mint, but they’re laden with sugar: a Daniel’s fast no-no.
*Whewoooooo*! Smell that? Got your eyes watering, didn’t I? That’s holiness in your face. Holiness ends tonight though. Tomorrow is the 22nd. Praise Him!