A few weeks ago I decided to take a break from social media for a week as part of a fasting agreement I made with one of our small groups. Fasting is one of the toughest spiritual disciplines for me. It’s tough to give up the comforts I have, especially the little things that seem like a big deal. But over the past year I’ve put a lot of effort into giving up things that don’t need to be reduced or removed from my life.
Part of the process of fasting for me has been approaching it through the lens of minimalism. Minimalism, as an art or architectural practice, is intentional design using only the necessary lines, shapes, colors or objects needed to express an emotion, or create a space. Minimalism is not simply the removal of as many objects as you can, but it is creating a design where any further removal of objects would take away from the beauty of the design.
When it comes to fasting for spiritual purposes, one of the difficulties I’ve had over the years is approaching the discipline as simply ‘doing-without’, without seeing how the removal of that element affects the overall design of my life. This approach means that I can potentially remove as much as I want, but if I’m not removing the right things, then the exercise is unproductive, or counter productive. For example, I significantly cut down on my drive time last year when I moved. That drive time was a valuable prayer time for me, and it took me a while to realize that the removal of that part of my life was having negative effect.
Most importantly, the power of the design of fasting does not come from the simple removal of objects in our lives, but the connection we develop with God. The removal of a desirable object from my life is simply an act of will power. The removal of a desirable object so God’s design can be seen more clearly is a sacrificial discipline. This removal gives more significance to the necessary, or God’s design in my life.
And in the world of a minimalism, a simple object with a powerful necessary design is a thing of great beauty.
One love, One heart.