I have not done anything like this before.
When I first thought of doing it, I was apprehensive. Can I actually do it or will I quit after a few days? After all, I led the challenge to experience hunger. It was suppose to be a 7-day journey of eating one meal per day. However, by end of the week, I sensed the Lord is saying to me to extend it for another 7 days. Eating one meal per day for 14 days was quite an experience!
The first few days were the most challenging. I started counting how many more hours until my meal for the day. I felt irritable and cannot concentrate on the task at hand. I had headaches and loss of energy. I snapped at people and I was temperamental. By the end of the 6th day, I realized that being hungry made me selfish because my mind was focused on the next meal to ease the pain of hunger. My inner turmoil manifested outward in ways that hurt others. I did not like what I observed about myself.
I thought about people who line up at food pantries and soup kitchens. It is easy for others to judge them – grumpy, not personable and ungrateful. After experiencing being hungry for several days, I have more understanding why some of them behave that way. I can somehow empathize with those who are hungry – headaches, irritability, grumbling stomach and fatigue. I can only imagine the feeling of single parents who line up at food pantries with their little children crying because of hunger.
What about the elderly who have to choose spending their money either on medicine or healthy food? What about the people who have to beg for food?
As days go by, I noticed that my body was adjusting to eating just one meal a day. I was not hungry between meals and I became a pleasant person again. By experiencing being in a bad mood in the past several days, I became more aware of myself – how I process ideas and how I react towards others. I was able to manage my emotions better by not responding immediately to situations. By not feeling hungry, my mind was clear and I was not thinking so much about myself. I can focus better on task at hand and I became more attentive to the feelings of others rather than being concerned about myself.
Past the pain of hunger, God revealed things in my life that I did not notice before. The painful experience of hurting others is a lesson that will impact me for the rest of my life. The pain of selfishness (self-preservation and protection) uncovered deep hurts that happened to me in the past. It’s ironic to think that pain healed me. The pain of hunger made me more aware of others, I became less critical and less skeptical. I need to be more aware of myself and of others, how my actions influence people around me, be more sensitive of the feelings of others, and to welcome the pain of learning.
On my 12th day of fasting, God revealed to me why Jesus is a great communicator. He lived in the streets with his disciples. He experienced the pain of hunger. He walked with the outcasts. Jesus met the demoniacs and the prostitutes. Jesus was with the disciples and lived with them. He knew their lifestyle and experienced the perils of the sea and the uncertainties of crossing the desert. He empathized with them because He was with them. He did not stay in the comfort of a home. He did not seclude Himself from the world but He lived in the world. He did not just teach the people about life but He lived with them. He was among them and has the authority to speak in their lives. I believe that Jesus is a great communicator because He experienced being tempted, persecuted, judged, and stabbed in the back. He experienced being hungry and thirsty. He knew what the people were going through and He spoke through experience rather than through research, interviews and experiments.
I believe that God led us to “Beyond This Hunger” campaign not only to experience the pain of hunger in many forms but also to learn more about ourselves. By experiencing what others experienced on some level, we were able to uncover our inner motives, our hurts and our struggles. Through the process of self-discovery, we learned how to relate better with others and how to provide services beyond our passion. Past the pain of hunger, we find ourselves.
image source: Jesus the Homeless Statue by Timothy Schmalz