Monday, May 01, 2017

Fasting and Altruism

Sunday we had a fast for my dad. I thought it was pretty cool because when I sent out a reminder Saturday night about our family fast, Michael was the first one to reply that he was planning on participating. Years ago I realized that lots of religions have some sort of fast: Jews keep Yom Kippur; Christians participate in Lent; Muslims have Ramadan. All participate in the fast to bring them closer to God.

I told Dan that I needed a day to sleep. Part of me wanted to skip church, but I knew I actually wanted the camaraderie of my ward family. Luckily we have afternoon church, so Dan got up with the dog and I stayed in bed until 11:00. The rest of the morning was peaceful. Nick was worried because he accidentally drank some water. We told him God wants us to do our best -- not be perfect; especially when he did it accidentally. It's pretty sweet that he was trying so hard. In fact, he fasted until dinner -- that's longer than he's done before.

Later, when we were preparing dinner, he popped a piece of cheese in his mouth. I saw his eyes get big and then he ran over to the trash and spit it out. We told him the story of Dan's cousin who was participating in a family fast for her mom who was dying of cancer. She was only Nick's age and snuck an Oreo cookie. Her mom passed away and for years she thought it was her fault because she hadn't kept a perfect fast. We emphasized to Nick that Heavenly Father loves us just like a real Father. He understands when we make mistakes and loves that we're trying.

Between Rachel's pregnancy, Dimitrios' son's death and Dad's cancer, we've had three family fasts in the last 6 months. I love my family. I love how much we care about each other. On Monday when we talked, Michael said he loved that by fasting, thoughts of Dad were at the forefront of his mind.

Months ago someone told me they didn't believe in altruism. That people perform acts of kindness and love with a hope of some kind of personal benefit. I thought about for a few days and ultimately disagreed. I believe prayer and fasting are altruistic. When I prayed for my niece after her terrible car accident, there was no benefit in it for me. I simply wanted to pray on her behalf. During that prayer I said "I don't know what to pray for." And then waited. A few seconds later the idea of what she needed came to my mind. That's true altruism. I didn't pray for what I wanted or for what I thought she needed. I wanted to pray for what God wanted. And then did so. I had nothing personal to gain. No one knew I'd spent those few minutes praying so I wasn't looking for "pats on the back" or people to see me as a good person. That's altruism.

Fasting is the same. Generally we do it without anyone else knowing. We certainly don't do it for personal gain. In fact, it's hard. But we go about our normal day. It's personal and sometimes its the only thing we can do to show someone we love them. And I suppose there's nothing tangible to show for it. Just our faith that God hears our prayers, that fasting somehow makes our prayers stronger, and that the recipient is boosted in return. Altruism. We do it purely out of love.

Diane reported that evening that Dad felt really great. There was a peaceful spirit in our home all day. Marge and I worked together making Wacky Cake and $300 Frosting. I'd promised we'd make it for Easter because it was close to her Mom's birthday. But then we ended up going to Sheree's. And last week was busy with the Eagle ceremony. But today we made it and it was delicious! We made two batches. One with the regular recipe and the other with whole wheat flour, maple syrup instead of sugar and applesauce instead of oil. They were both super tasty.

We had a simple family home evening after dinner with Chris sharing a scripture and some discussion about how 2000 years ago the people of the Book of Mormon time had the same arguments against God and religion as they do today. Also that in Alma the people declared they knew the planets rotated around the sun and they were sophisticated in their scientific beliefs -- long before other people still thought the world was flat. Marge shared a neat story from church about missionary work. A disappointed boy converted only "one fat dutch lady" on his mission in Holland and 70 years later his son received a letter from that dutch lady's granddaughter that over 400 people had been converted as a result of that Dutch Lady's conversion.

No comments: