Monday, February 22, 2010

Lessons from the Fast

Today is day five of my fast, and I have to admit that it is far more difficult that I thought it would be. I didn't think it would be hard to just remove regular books from my life and replace them with the Bible. Now on an average day I tend to read about six hours, so I thought I'd be burning up the pages in my Bible, but instead I've discovered that I can't read the Bible the way I do other books. Having the television on is too much of a distraction, so I've read far less than I thought.

I've also discovered that I tend to use reading as insulation against the world. Now I have to admit that I've been watching Celebrity Rehab so I am learning the language of addiction, so excuse my introspection. I think that I use books as a way of removing myself from life and protection from the stresses of everyday life. That can be healthy if done in a moderate manner, but without the numbing the books provide, I'm feeling a bit edgy and frustrated.

I guess I really do have to admit it: I am addicted to books, because without them, I am suffering. I know this sounds so silly, I want to slap myself just for typing it, but it's true! This weekend I was stressed out about all the things I wanted to get done and physically couldn't. My normal MO would be to curl up with a book and escape to another land, another life. This weekend I couldn't do that. The Bible forces introspection not numbing escape. I had to deal with my emotions straight up without filter, and it wasn't pretty. Fifteen years ago when I was deeply depressed, I could read through three or more books in a day. I'm realizing now that the more I'm reading, the less engaged I am with the world.

When I asked Doogie to give up smoking for Lent as I gave up books, I was honestly just doing it to get him to stop smoking. I didn't think that not reading would be that hard. Now I'm wondering which of us is having the easier time of it.

I was hoping that focusing on the Bible would deepen my faith and bring me closer to God. Instead it has exposed my deepest flaws, not the ones I'm completely aware of and do my best to hide, but the ones I didn't even want to know about. Obviously God is working on me. I've loved the reading I've done in the Bible, gaining new understanding of Joseph and Moses. I'm looking forward to 40 more days of that. 40 more days of deep self-discovery, not so much.