A Lenten Fast From The Perspective Of My Child

On Monday, I had all three of my kids home for Spring Break.  And honestly, nothing makes me happier because I miss them when they’re gone.  (I’m ready for summer.)

We were all in the kitchen.  The boys were eating at the bar, and my daughter and I were reheating some leftovers for lunch.  As she went to the cabinet to get a glass, my daughter told me how much she wished she could have something besides water to drink.

I smiled.  And I nodded.

Because I understand.  In fact, this week has been the most challenging for me with respect to fasting.  Probably because the sun has finally peeked out from behind the heavy mass of clouds, and I want some peach mango iced tea to celebrate its arrival!

She continued:

“You know the thing that’s kind of cool about this fast we’re doing?” she asked me.  “During Lent, we think about what Jesus did on the cross for us.  And when we give something up during Lent, it’s kind of a way we can say thank you for what Jesus did.”

Fortunately, I was on my “A Game” for a brief moment (a rare occurrence these days), and I realized that the door was wide open for some conversation.  So I grabbed a pen and paper and began to interview my daughter about her experience fasting all non-water beverages for Lent.  Here’s what she had to say:

Mom:  “Can you think of a way that you have benefited from doing this fast?”

Daughter:  “Well, it helps me to be more healthy because I’m not drinking things that aren’t good for me.”

Mom:  “Are there some other reasons that you think this fast was a good idea?”

Daughter:  “It’s allowing us to give more to those in need.  Jesus gave his life for us and so we should give more of our things to people in need.”

Mom:  “What have you learned from this fast?”

Daughter:  “I was kind of afraid to start this fast because I thought I needed something to drink besides water.  But now I realize, I have water, and that’s all I need.”

Mom:  “Has this fast helped you to be more thankful?  If so, how?”

Daughter:  “I think I appreciate having things like hot chocolate and milk to drink more than I did before.  But mostly, I’m just really thankful for water.”

Mom:  “Why did you decide to do this with us?”

Daughter:  “When you asked me what I thought about participating, at first, I didn’t want to.  But when you told me that we would be giving the savings to help people in the world, it motivated me to do it with you.  I thought that was pretty cool.”

Mom:  “Would you do it again?”

Daughter:  “Most likely.”

Mom:  “Would you encourage others to do it?”

Daughter:  “Definitely.”

Mom:  “If you had to say one thing about this fast that you think has been the biggest blessing, what do you think it would be?”

Daughter:  “Water.  The blessing of water.”

As I typed that last sentence, the tears welled up in my eyes.  Because this has meant something to me.  And now I know that it’s meant something to her too.

Sometimes I think we overestimate what our children are capable of, and I think we put way too much pressure on them.  At school.  On the baseball field.  In the band hall.  And in so many other places where we measure their success against the success of others, and we try to live our dreams vicariously through them.

But other times, I think we underestimate our kids too.  And this can be particularly true in the area of faith development.  I think that sometimes we assume things of faith are simply beyond their grasp.

Time and time again, though, my kids surprise me with what they understand.  And in this case, what they’re willing to do in the name of Jesus.  Certainly, we didn’t make our daughter participate in the H2O Project with us.  But we did ask her if she wanted to.

And because she said “yes,” we’ve spent the last several weeks discovering the blessing of water together.  We’ve had some important conversations about the global water crisis.  We’ve experienced the benefits of team building by working towards a common goal.  (One we’re only $226 from reaching, by the way!)   And today, we got to have this conversation.  One that gave me a glimpse into her heart.

I don’t know about you, but I think that might be worth drinking nothing but water for the rest of my days!

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