What is Fasting? (And Why Am I Fasting From Makeup?)

Today should be day 7 of 40 of my makeup fast, but since I’ve already declared day 7 as a do-over, I thought I’d hijack today’s makeup-fast post, talk a little bit about fasting, specifically, and explain a bit why fasting from makeup is a step that I needed to take.

What Is Fasting, And Why Should I Fast?

“Fasting” (abstaining from all or some kinds of foods or drinks, especially as a religious observance) though common in the biblical times, is not as common among contemporary Christians. One reason, I think, is that we’ve forgotten (or never learned) why one might fast in the first place. I really like Jen Hatmaker’s explanation of fasting, in her book “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.” Jen explains

“A fast creates margin for God to move. Temporarily changing or routine of comfort jars us off high center. A fast is not necessarily something we offer God, but it assists us in offering ourselves.”

She also lists six circumstances in which one might initiate a fast to “summon God’s movement in [their] life:”

  • Mourning
  • Inquiry
  • Repentance
  • Preparation
  • Crisis
  • Worship

Fasting From Makeup

I can definitely identify with fasting for repentance. Jen Hatmaker sees fasting for repentance as “a tangible way to bow low and repent of greed, ungratefulness, ruined opportunities, and irresponsibility.” To which I say yes, yes, yes and yes. Though I consider myself as grateful and not greedy, upon further inspection, some of my habits prove the opposite. My dependency on makeup is just one example. In my greed for external beauty, I’ve spent hundreds of dollars and just as many hours applying makeup to cover-up and alter what God has given me.
What am I saying to God when I refuse to be seen without makeup on? What am I saying to others about God when I refuse to be seen without makeup on? If I was grateful for the face God gave me, would I feel ashamed of it? Would insist that I know better–that the world knows better–and feel incomplete without altering my appearance? I like to tell myself that I am grateful, but if I’m going to be honest: I’m not. I do not like my naked face, and I’m embarrassed to be seen in public without makeup.
I can also identify with fasting for preparation. If something as simple as being seen barefaced is such a challenge for me, how prepared am I to reflect God to the world? Through this fast, my prayer is that God will continue to equip me for whatever work he has set before me. This fast is one way that I can show him that I’m serious. That I want to be less concerned with myself, how I look, and how others perceive me, and more concerned with Him, his purposes, and his will for my life. That I am ready to set my earthly comfort and desires aside and follow Him wherever he leads.
It is in fasting for inquiry though, that I am already seeing the most dramatic change. Here is something I wrote before I started this fast:
“I feel as if I’m at a crossroads with my work, yet I can’t see a clear path ahead of me. I have a cloudy picture of where I might be headed, and I want to know for sure that it’s something God is calling me to do, not something that I simply want to do.”
I want to know whether it is God’s will that I pursue writing, and I want to know what he would have me say. And can I tell you something? God is making that cloudy picture I had very clear. He is faithfully answering my prayer.
The incredible response to the post “50 Shades of Magic Mike” is sudden and alarming proof. I finally agreed to step out in faith and say “yes” to the words God put on my heart, and, at the time of writing this, that single post has received more views and comments than my blog as a whole received LAST YEAR, or the year before that. God’s heart is all over that outpouring of support, the beautiful encouragement, and the strengthening correction I’ve received from my brothers and sisters in Christ.
I hope that explains some aspects of fasting a bit better, and you understand a little more why it is important that I’m abstaining from makeup for 40 days. And before you go telling me that I’m taking myself too seriously, I encourage you to read the very first post in my makeup-fast series. Many of your concerns will be addressed in that post, and it will save you the time of commenting on something that I’ve already discussed.
xoxo,
mj
—————
On a side-note, here’s the project I did at work yesterday, which is why I had to wear makeup and am calling day 7 a do-over.
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17 Comments

  1. cleansedbygod

     /  July 4, 2012

    I really enjoyed this piece. 🙂

    Reply
  2. Fasting is also a great way to increase your ability to resist temptation.

    As a bit of irony,

    17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and *wash thy face*;
    Matthew 6:17

    So a makeup fast quite appropriate.

    It’s also the Lord’s call to free others, physically and spiritually.

    6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?
    7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
    8 ¶ Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward.
    9 Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;
    10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday:
    11 And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.
    12 And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.
    Isaiah 58:6-12

    Ideal for July 4.

    Reply
  3. I have my own quirky little reason for cheering you on in your fast from makeup. To put it as delicately as I can, I’ve noticed this tendency in Christian women, especially writers and bloggers, to only show our best side. We identify ourselves by our best traits and post our prettiest pictures on our blogs, with makeup applied and every strand of hair in place. We generally avoid talking about personal insecurities and weaknesses, except in the most general of senses, and tend to preach from a place of strength rather than confess our own brokenness. Please know: I’m an offender in this as well. But wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all follow Paul’s example and instead of glorifying our own “good Christian woman” image, rather rejoice in our weaknesses and frailty, because that is where God’s power truly shines? I’m new to your blog, but I love it already: you’re so fresh and open and honest about everything. You give a real sense of vulnerability that makes your words seem intimate and real, and I love that. This makeup fast is just one more reason I’ll keep reading! You go girl!

    Reply
    • You totally identified something that bugs me about Christian writers and bloggers, even though I hadn’t realized it in those exact words. But yes! You’re right! All I really see is everyone’s very best, which is great, to an extent. It’s natural to want to share and celebrate the good and happy things (I mean, who goes around posting videos of their kids throwing tantrums on Facebook?), but if we’re going to be honest, we should take some care to represent our lives accurately. I love what you said: “But wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all follow Paul’s example and instead of glorifying our own “good Christian woman” image, rather rejoice in our weaknesses and frailty, because that is where God’s power truly shines?” I’m with you– we could serve each other better by opening up and being more vulnerable. Thank you for putting words to something that had previously been a lingering frustration. And thank you for your kind words, I really appreciate your encouragement!

      Reply
  4. Chelsea

     /  July 5, 2012

    First thing: I recently found your blog via the 50SG/MM post and it’s fantastic!
    Secondly: you’re stronger than I am! Amen to your makeup fast. Praying for you to hold fast & for God to bless you with glowing & dewy skin during this time. ^_^

    Reply
  5. Kelli

     /  July 5, 2012

    Discovered you today via a link to 50SG/MM. Agree 100% with you. I have also caught up on your Make Up fast. It is amazing what God will use to talk to us, think you are amazing for listening to God in what He wants you do. Will continue to read more of your older stuff and keep up w/Make up fast as well as anything new. 🙂 Keep your head up. As I saw on Twitter, b/c yes now I follow you there too, with more popularity comes more opposition and the more you listen and obey God, the more the devil will fight.

    Reply
  6. As part of the Mormon faith we fast (from food) one day a month… And it is hard! But I think in those moments that we are humble enough to truly listen to the Lord, and we show Him we love Him more than everything.
    Also, I wanted to say I truly appreciated your words on the MM situation. I have to admit I was definitely tempted to have “my turn” objectifying, but sitting back to think about it honestly makes me feel so immature! I was very disappointed hearing about my husband’s use of pornography (before we were married) and I would we so upset if he was still interested in that.
    To be honest I think people who have to use pornography in their marriage will ultimately see some serious side-effects and be unhappy. If we were truly happy and satisfied with our partners we wouldn’t need it! Just because society lets us, doesn’t mean its right. We all have a conscience, whether some acknowledge it as the light of Christ or not, and we know what is right and wrong. We have to be strong enough to listen to that.
    Our poor kids have to grow up in this world that puts pornography everywhere and I just hope my two little sons will love the Lord more than seeking the praise of others.

    Reply
  7. Emily

     /  July 6, 2012

    I also discovered your blog via a link to your 50 shades/Magic Mike post (of which I am wholly supportive and wish I had the guts to express the same opinion when the opportunity presents itself, and I especially appreciate that you aren’t unsupportive of intimacy itself, but rather objectification, pornography, etc). Anywho – back to the make-up fast – as I realized while reading your post, I sometimes get comments about looking tired even when I fix my makeup. I’m a newish mom, full-time employee, and attempt to be an over ambitious crafter and a runner, what do you expect?! Maybe I have permanently puffy eyes, I don’t know. Regardless, it got me thinking… Who am I trying to impress? I love the life God has blessed me with, and like everyone I need his forgiveness and blessings on a regular basis to remind me of this. I prefer not wearing makeup, and I love the characteristics that God has blessed me with, and that the makeup attempts to cover, like the massive amount of freckles on my face. I am hoping this doesn’t come out as vanity, as that is not my intention. The point I’m trying to make is that I don’t want to cover my skin up and be something I’m not, and I don’t want to teach my daughter that she should feel the need to “fix” her beautiful self. So glad your blog could help me realize this! 40 days (hopefully longer) starts over my lunch hour, when I go wash off my makeup.

    Reply
  8. Amy

     /  July 6, 2012

    Love this! I had a wonderful conversion experience this past year and one thing I felt God calling me to do was give up make-up. I was like you and hated to go outside my home without my face painted. I wouldn’t even go to the grocery store or work out without mascara. The devil had caused me to be ashamed of the beautiful face God had given me. I asked myself, “why am I wearing this stuff” it’s either A:to impress other women (which only results in jealousy) or B: for other men to find me attractive (not exactly ok when you are married) The beauty of giving up make-up is that I have learned to love myself for who I am. I no longer look in the mirror and cringe when I see my natural self. I have chosen to focus more on my inner beauty and have been told by people how I seem to glow with happiness. I also feel confident now, that when my daughters tell me they want to wear make-up one day, I can tell them they are beautiful just the way they are and not be a hypocrite.

    Reply
  9. Tricia

     /  July 6, 2012

    Beautiful!! I think that this is Perfect! So much of women’s self-esteem and worth are wrapped up into perceptions of beauty, and while I don’t think that we have to go to extremes and not wash or dress nicely- I do think that taking time to consciously say, “I can go Without the makeup and I am still ok, and I am still beautiful” is a very valuable thing. The same thing can go for looking at the scale. Oh… and I had a friend put up a challenge which I thought was awesome- but I don’t know if I could do it- it was to not look in a mirror for a week. It sounds Extreme, but what I think is cool about the experiement would be to see how much time I spend looking at myself and to realize that I can be and survive and do fine *without* the mirror. It is not to do away with it entirely- just for a time (like the fasting).

    I’m not a big makeup person so a makeup fast would not really be a fast for me, but I may take up the mirror challenge.

    All the best! And you are beautiful with or without the makeup!! Plus- just think- you are fasting at a younger time in your life, so it will make it easier if you choose to fast when you are in your 30s, 40s, and beyond. 😉

    Reply
  10. Laura

     /  July 7, 2012

    I did a makeup fast almost two years ago and have not gone back. Turns out my husband hated makeup and never told me now I get more compliments from him about how beautiful I am then I ever did then, which if it is to matter that I look good im glad it’s him that thinks it. I won’t even get into the money I’ve saved the differene in how I was treated at work (more like an equal less like a “girl”) and guess what when I say I can be ready in five minutes I can!

    Reply
  11. I am SO glad that I found your blog. Your “50 shades of magic mike” was posted to our church facebook. Reading your makeup fast has me questioning my motives for makeup. I am a cosmetologist & run my own salon. I have made the excuse, “my clients might see me” when I put my makeup on just to run to the grocery store, or the gym.. I have the same embarrassment for my natural face and have struggled with acne/blotchy skintone for as long as I can remember. Even as I type, I realize how a makeup fast would be beneficial & allow me to place God first.

    Reply
  12. You’re one gifted speaker and writer! =D

    Reply
  13. This post tells and urges me to take a fast in a certain area of my life! Thank you for posting this! =)

    Reply
  14. I appreciate your post. I just finished reading 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess and also went on a (very short) fast from food for spiritual reasons.

    There was a season in my life when I fasted a lot more but I kind of got burned out (indicates I had my focus wrong) and took some time off. I’ll probably fast more regularly in the future.

    Reply
  1. Makeup Fast: Days 11-16 of 40 (It’s Working!) « melissajenna.com

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