Life Management Spiritual

The Paradox of Happiness During Quarantine

The paradox in human condition is that in simplicity, there is joy and happiness. Perhaps we sometimes need a white background before we see the beauty in life’s nuances and simple details. Perhaps it is seeing the weaving fabric behind a complex tapestry. This is what I experienced during the quarantine.

Though physically confined, I was free.

I spent time and resource on things that mattered. Peaceful meditation and introspect, family and friends (albeit sometimes virtually). I had time to reach out to old friends and had time to enjoy the company of my children. Even though they were through silent moments in company. We were all there. Present.

I learned to create value through service. Having been without a maid since December, I’ve learned how to cook again. And cook I did to taste! The personal standard was high.

To love is to serve. I did the laundry for my kids sometimes. I cleaned around the house, with no reason except for love. To express love is also to be free.

As the end of the quarantine draws near, work prospects have started to emerge. Once engaged, here now comes the precarious balancing act. I will again be in contest with myself. How can I weigh simplicity against the measure of living within my fullest potential (As an athlete, an executive, and as a citizen of my community)?  The latter brings unintended complexity driven by performance, merit and competition. I am a warrior and a field commander. That is my identity. The purpose to which I was made. The programming from which I act.

Have I not spent my time in this lull honing myself into a weapon? A sharp mind and a strong body? Willingly would I give both into the throes of my next mission. The marketplace, the city and the nations.

Where is the sweet spot and oasis between purpose and vanity?

Is my Lord and Shepherd leading me again on a journey of discovery? In all the chaos of this world, in all of these things, There is God.

Where art thou, my LORD and my King?

Sometime around 1994 my mentor and friend Fr. Zogby (God bless your soul) gave me this book: “The Age of Paradox”. Written 26 years ago, its truths still rings today. COVID19 has brought the world (Its life and economy) to its knees. But where is the simple truth behind this tapestry of chaos? Perhaps behind the foreground of disaster are the simple truths on the value of life and the spirit that drives us. Love, restoration and peace.

Life Management Spiritual

4 – Reasons to Fast. Just Add Water!

Following my recent post on Bai’s Lechon, I somehow find it awkward to be talking about fasting the following day. The question on whether or not it should be awkward is given to the audience to whom these articles are directed to. The fact of the matter is that the best time to be talking about the pleasures of food are in those moments when you are devoid of it. Here then are my Insights from the Empty Stomach.

The practice of “Spiritual Fasting” has been an annual event for the past fourteen years of being a member of Victory Christian Fellowship where the Church calls for a Corporate Fast usually during the beginning of each year. While members are called or encouraged to fast, it has never been mandated to membership but in my experience the personal benefits have far exceeded the practice.

In the beginning of the year it has been our own practice in the family to plan for the year ahead. This is nothing short of a Visioning session which includes all of our aspirations in different key areas of our life. Our central strategic theme this year is that of a bow and arrow. For the last two years we felt that we were being pulled back and stressed but also done so that we may be launched to our targets upon release. There are different areas for impact which also act as pillars for our personal KRA’s (Key Result Areas) mine being Career / Business, Relationships, Personal Growth and Learning, and Finance. If these sound like the pillars of Balanced Score Card (BSC) well, they are! I only adapted the concept for personal strategic planning. Just as any plan would have there are Key Performance Indicators to monitor the plan’s traction. But here are my 4 – Reasons to Fast.

1. Everybody Needs a Hard Reset
The time of fasting is likened to a device going on a “hard reset”. Incidentally, I had once condemned and declared my aging iPhone 4S as dead when one day it just wouldn’t start. I searched the net for a possible solution to find that your iPhone sometimes needs to do a “Hard Reset” and so I did by pressing the sleep and home button simultaneously for 5 seconds. Then I saw the Apple sign with its wheel indicating that it was slowly coming back to life again! Hallelujah! We have a resurrection. Incidentally, Pastor Joey who also wrote about The Mystery of The Empty Stomach had also suffered a false demise on his iPhone.

Fasting to me is a form of a reset at three levels namely the Body, Soul and Spirit. With a proper fasting approach, the body goes on a slow switch from consuming calories from ingestion to burning your stores of fat through a process called ketosis. While this sounds like a great way to lose fat, well it is! But wait, theres more! It is also important to note that the body needs to be well hydrated (Just add water and lots of it) and note that if you are an athlete without much stores of fat to burn, you might need to supplement your calorie intake before it starts metabolizing protein from your muscles.

What also happens when ketosis has started to take place is that you will feel less hungry. Your body is literally living off of itself and its reserves so it’s all you! You can’t say it was the wine or what you’ve been eating, you are at your purest sense at this state.

When ketosis is in effect, you will think less about food and start to focus on things that matter, which could be the very reason why you are fasting in the first place. This post is dedicated to those who are fasting for Spiritual reasons. The purpose for a shutdown and reset is to align your body, soul, and spirit where you boot up from the spirit, soul, and body in that order. The spirit aligns us with God and his purpose.

2. Fasting brings our souls into submission to the Spirit that honors God
It is often said that whatever delights us, controls us. The reality is that we often behave according to our heart’s desire. Desires drive us! Some of these desires are not beneficial to us. But desires are not entirely evil and sometimes could be used as a positive motivation for action. The question is whether or not our desires are aligned towards God. During a time of fasting we acknowledge and honor the truth that everything comes from him and is his. As long as we are aligned according to his plans as his children, we also have a promise in him:

1 John 5:14-15 (NIV)

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

Psalm 37:4

Delight yourself in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart
3. Fasting helps us prioritize our focus on God so that we may hear from Him

Proverbs 16:3

Commit your work to the Lord,
    and your plans will be established.

In my perspective, fasting is a way for me to submit my plans to him and wait for His instructions. It’s just like elevating matters to the Chairman for decision and approval. I arrest my tasks and wait expectantly on him. Fasting helps me declutter, set aside my personal and physical needs, focus and submit matters to his Lordship knowing that he puts things in proper alignment. Fasting is a matter of relationship between me and my God whom I know hears me. When I fast it demonstrates that I am willing to prioritize on prayer and communicating with God over my basic needs.

Therefore, with the exercise of fasting, we are also given the right perspective of order where the Spirit of God takes precedent over the wills of our soul and our body.

4. Fasting Yields Superior Insights to your Destiny
Fasting brings us in state where we can receive insights in their absolute purity. The process of fasting purges us to our barest existence before God. It focuses us under a heightened sensitivity to his purpose for our life. During these moments, he is our sustenance and his word becomes food for our souls.

Fasting provides insights from a higher vantage that is stripped of our carnal needs and desires. It brings us within communion to higher source of being which is His Spirit. Fasting helps us tap into the source and beginnings of all wisdom which can then be transcended into our daily lives.

Proverbs 9:10 (NIV)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Psalm 110:10
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
To him belongs eternal praise

Psalm 110:1-3

Praise the Lord.

Blessed are those who fear the Lord,
who find great delight in his commands.

Their children will be mighty in the land;
the generation of the upright will be blessed.

Wealth and riches are in their houses,
and their righteousness endures forever.

Could the Lord withhold any good thing from his children? I would not think that to be so. But just as any plan needs insight, fasting certainly aligns me towards the Ultimate plan for myself and creation. It aligns my proximate objectives to the ultimate goal. It isn’t a way for me to twist God’s arm in persuasion but rather a demonstration of his Lordship over my life by forcing my soul and body in submission to his Spirit.

These are my 4-Reasons to Fast. They are mine and very personal. It has been a practice that I’ve established in making my plans succeed. The elements are quite simple, Just Add Water!