Maybe An Epic Fast Fail Is Really Doing It's Most Important Work? {What To Do When We Fall Short}

I don't eat anything at lunch except a pulsed, whirled-together berry and banana juice--nothing added. I speak a couple prayers out loud to God for friends sick and in need. The afternoon stetches out long, and as I'm getting ready to go run, the stomach churns.

I raise my voice at my daughter, exasperated at all that needs to be done and what little time and I can't even eat anything. My head pounds and I go to the cupboard--medicine? But knowing what the headache craves I head toward the fridge, pull out a yogurt, and leave it sitting on the counter and decide on nothing for the slamming pain.

Maybe fasting is not doing it's job--it is so obvious to me that I'm not very holy.

Quickly brushing Husband's lips when he walks in the door, my kiss half lands on air and half lands on him in my great rush. He leans towards me for a hug and I dart in and back out, and dash into the laundry for my shirt.

I cannot be late.

As I run around the house, throwing on tennis shoes, flinging on a hoodie, words snap harsh at Husband and the air weighs heavy. "Love you!" I call, but the words seem to fall dead. I run to the door with a quick, "Bye!"

Then Ivy jumps up off the couch and runs over to me, "Mama!" She lands into me with one of her special hugs, so soft, slowing me down.

I tilt her chin, look into her eyes, and tell her, "Mama is sorry for fussing at you, ok? I'm sorry I got angry. But I need you to obey me, alright?"

She nods, her face full of emotion, and it strikes me that she looks up at me with full submission, her body leaning into me vulnerable, the way I should look to God. "I love you, baby." I squeeze her again.

I jump in my husband's red car, and as I pull out the drive and head down the road, then make the right onto the highway, and whir past the brick houses, past the daffodils happily fencing in yards, I feel a little like I'm trying to catch up with myself--a little dizzy.

It's not until I pull onto the interstate that I realize the need to phone Husband to say I'm sorry.

On his end, it's obvious in his voice, he is tired, having come home from work, our little ones hanging on him. He says he's sorry too. But I can feel the weight in his voice, the weight of what I've done.

My friend and I run and she talks to me and I tell her I will pray, that I'm by her side. We run in the night and I tell her that I'm not going anywhere, no matter what she decides. In the darkness we hug. I feel like a hypocrite. I yearn to get home to them.

In the dark, I walk up the concrete side-door steps and let out a coming home exhale. Opening the door after a grueling 4 mile run on hilly terrain, the smell of roast and vegetables that I cooked in the crockpot earlier in the afternoon hits my senses full and my stomach lurches, my mouth winces sour.

I know what the articles on running say: always eat protein right away so that the muscles can repair themselves and have full functionality.

But I choose the spiritual benefits--at least for now. I let Husband fix the plates and stay away. He laughs at my pained expression, my determination. He shoos me away so I'm not tempted.

I allow myself an apple and hot tea at bedtime and I still get in bed with stomach aching and body shaky. I lie there thinking I know how I messed up today, not eating any protein, being snappy and yelling at my family.

I ache in so many ways, a hollow ache not just from lack of real sustenance, but this is a different kind of dulling pain--the pang of feeling deeply all I lack, how I create waves of throbbing hurt in the wake of my thrashing.

The deprivation of physical food is glaring at me my need for spiritual food. I didn't realize I was starving.

I cuddle up to Husband and I tell him I'm sorry I was so awful, that I love him, and he exhales and sleepily says "I love you," and this calms me. I try to settle my body and go to sleep, but my sugar level does loopy things, the body rattles head to toe, and the mind races and as the clock silently ticks closer and closer to midnight, I finally decide that sleep is more important than anything at this point, {my children need their Mama to get sleep, trust me!}.

In the kitchen, where I give into my flesh and satisfy it, I feel guilty--guilty for needing food so badly.

So, I have failed at fasting--completely and utterly failed.

In the dark, always the dark, I lie there, stomach satisfied and wonder if God can help me, sin-filled me, craving-this world-me.

I ask myself which I crave more, the physical things that satisfy or God.

Ashamedly, I come to Him, face lifted up, submissive, my body wholly leaning into Him vulnerable. I can't do any of it without You. 

The next morning I wake and have a text from my friend reminding me that she needs prayer. This makes me smile--maybe all is not lost.

Tuned a little more acutely to God now, my heart asks how I can follow Him today, how I can worship best today, serve my family 'til the edges are worn soft, pray for friends and family with sincerity as if it were me going through their trial.

I give all my guilt and shame and failure to Him. He accepts me with open arms, and I fall into His grace, the only thing that rescues.

Maybe, just maybe, the most important work has truly been done.

"Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy.' Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to your from the forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. " 1 Peter 1:13-19, emphasis added

"But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man's sin: The judgement followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ." Romans 5:15-17, emphasis added
A few quotes by Piper on grace and our need to drink in God...
“Grace is the pleasure of God to magnify the worth of God by giving sinners the right and power to delight in God without obscuring the glory of God.”
― John Piper
“If you don't feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.”
― John Piper, A Hunger For God
“The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not the X-rated video, but the prime-time dribble of triviality we drink in every night.”
― John Piper, Hunger for God
 “The only answer in these modern times, as in all other times, is the blood of Christ. When our conscience rises up and condemns us, where will we turn? We turn to Christ. We turn to the suffering and death of Christ—the blood of Christ. This is the only cleansing agent in the universe that can give the conscience relief in life and peace in death.”

 ― John Piper, Passion of Jesus Christ 
Very convicting and nourishing to my soul, friends. What about you? Do you struggle with spiritual disciplines? Have you ever fasted and if so, what was your experience? I'd like to hear your thoughts!

A song that captivates me, reminds me of God's love...maybe you need reminding, too?...

If you enjoyed this post at all, and think someone else might as well, would you consider sharing in one of the ways below? {two ways to do this--at the top of the comment section and here:}

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Join me at Ann's for more reflections on fasting, what it looks like and how it moves us toward God?....


  1. So glad you stopped by at my place today... so that I could read this. The struggle is so real... so hard... but in these quiet moments when things settle... I realize in all this wanting and wishing, and hoping and longing, seeking and searching... that I have forgotten only He... GOD, alone can satisfy...

    Thanks for this... Blessings to you...

    1. thank you, Michele. it is so very hard, isn't it? yes, only God can satisfy...love that.

      i will have to bookmark your place so that i can come back!

      blessings to you!

  2. This post was just lovely ... and reminds me again that when we come to the end of ourselves, we find His grace.



    1. LuAnne!

      so happy to see you here! thanks for taking the time to visit. thanks for your gentle words. they mean a lot to me during this time. and yes, we always find His grace. blessings!

  3. Amen! Oh, I just read all these lessons and the last thing on my mind is that you failed. You failed? Oh, no sweet sister, you succeeded in listening to Him. You succeeded in seeking and receiving forgiveness. You succeeded in bowing low. You succeeded in hearing His voice. You succeeded in prayer and worship.

    You succeeded.

    1. oh Jen!

      what can i say? oh, just--*thank you* through tears, my sister. *you* are a treasure.

      love and blessings

  4. Nacole, each time I hear a call from the pulpit or in my own quiet reflection time to "share Christ's love with the world around me" I know in my gut I am being called to love those in my home in a more consistent way. It happens over and over again to me and still I need the reminder. I am just so much better at being there for the friend on the run than I am at actively and intentionally loving the man as he walks through the door from work. Thanks for your vulnerability and for sharing your experience.

    1. oh, Joy, so true, so very true. that resonates in my heart. thanks for sharing with me also. and thanks so much for dropping by and leaving a few words!


  5. this is not failure. oh, no. This is what finding the truth looks like. It never comes at us the way we imagined, though does it? You found his voice, you found direction. You gave encouragement and voice to the struggles we all face. Truth in beautiful words my new friend :)

    1. Tara,

      oh my, i'm overwhelmed at the responses of these women. i sat last night, and read these, and the tears just brimmed over. i did not expect this--this beauty, this rich community, these sisters coming alongside me and believing in me, encouraging me, praying for me. you have been a part of that, and i've only just begun to get to know you.

      thank you for the *treasure* of you.

      blessings and love.

  6. I share your "failure"! But my! I decided afterwards one of the things I did wrong was try too much too soon, even though I thought I was keeping it small like Husband advised. And you went way, way beyond me!! Plus, the minute the blood sugar and metabolism dropped, I dropped my "fasting experiment"! Came to many of your same conclusions. God bless you, sister, for your earnest heart!

    1. Sylvia,

      your words--they *move me*. i sat last night and tears brimmed and i wanted to weep for all the beauty i see in you ladies--this has been so healing for me--if only you knew.

      thank you, dear sister, and blessings and love to you!

  7. I second all the incredible thoughts these beautiful women have shared with you! This post is just lovely. I read this so thirsty for the truth you shared here, in the midst of struggle, hunger, God lovingly using our weakness to open calloused hearts to be satisfied in Him. These extremities laying us bare, where we fall on Christ alone, in brokeness, aching, longing need. This is the Gospel applied, God's glory being revealed in jars of clay. Your friend said it perfectly i thought, coming to the end of ourselves and finding God's grace, His strength made perfect in our weakness, once again. Thank you for sharing so vulnerably, as you always do.
    So my answer to your question is yes, I absolutely struggle with spiritual discipline(s), on every level, every day. It is in my brokenness and weakness that I see His grace sanctifying me and bearing fruit. It is painfully humbling so often...but I know only His Spirit's patient work can produce fruit that will last! (Jn 15)
    You have encouraged my soul!!! I love you, Nacole!!!

    1. Danae!!

      *SO* happy to see you here! yay!! you, special friend, melt my heart with your love. Amen to everything you said. you have added such a joyous piece to the puzzle of community here.

      yes, we fall on Christ alone...on Him alone...

      love and hugs!!!

  8. I have to add, I drank in the verses and the quotes you shared. I needed to read them, I didn't even know how starved for the Word I am right now. Thank you so very much.

    1. wonderful! i wonder when i add so many verses and quotes if i will bore people to death! *wink*

      that your soul was encouraged...this encourages me.

  9. I'm inspired by your dedication to fast in the middle of raising little ones...I often use my motherhood as an excuse..."I can't do that now..." , "Maybe when they're older"...but perhaps that is the point...to seek strength, by becoming weak even when we are at our weakest...not waiting until we've reached our "strongest"...

    1. oh Lisa,

      what can i say to this? such a sweet thing for you to say, dear one! Christ meets me in my imperfection and He just holds me. any grace i have known or have shown is by Him alone. thanking God for Ann, who pushes me head-long into grace everyday and challenges me everyday to walk closer with Him--she was the inspiration for the fast. you can read about it here if you like:


      blessings, dear sister!

  10. No failure - all that stuff I read about the Catholic fast - room for some food to keep up health and energy - it's easy for me to fast - it's just me - you have babies and and husband - and your running is important for your heart and mind - you need fuel for that machine - so no - not a failure - like everyone else has said - not t a failure. God bless you my friend.

    1. such a kind encouragement, just like all the rest here. thank you, Craig! i so appreciate it! sorry so late in responding. blessings!



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