Daniel Fast Day 16 :: Control

by - January 23, 2012

I've been reading a book as part of The High Calling's book club called The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement by David Brooks.

This book uses fictional characters as a tool to invite those who are otherwise uninterested or scared off into the world of sociology as it addresses the sub conscience and its influence and effect on the development of the human psyche. (Can you see the need for a human face and a sense of a real person to wrap yourself around in order to slog through the social science here?)

The discussion on culture and upbringing has given me a sense of déjà vu. I have experienced cultural differences aplenty in the marital blending of my own middle-class American heritage with that of my first generation Cuban-American husband. I've not articulated so thoroughly the minefield those cultural norms have been to us, but I recognized them for the old nemeses they are when Erika chooses college and, in so doing, goes against the family norms and cultural expectations.

Although the book has been immensely fascinating, I've also found it depressing. All this time, I've thought I was volitionally in much more control of my life than is the case according to David Brooks and the fictitious Harold and Erika. We apparently are much more a product of our circumstances and culture than feels comfortable to this girl who rather likes feeling in control.

Brooks gives continuous evidence from scientific studies that the development of our personalities, character, perspectives, goals, expectations, desires, and many other components that make up the composite "us" are built soundly on the back of our unconscious learning as we navigate our circumstances and stimuli. My sense of control was beginning to melt and slip through my hands like a mirage in the desert.

Then along came chapter 8 on self-control. This chapter collided with my Daniel Fast and all God is doing to fortify a weak area in my life. The suspect timing of this intersection among God, my life issue, and this social study is not by chance. My spirit recognizes the author of this set-up as God Himself.  He is reminding me that I am more than a science experiment in a social petrie dish. And although there is much to be gleaned from understanding how and why we develop into the people we become, God will  not be marginalized. I can study who I am and how I got this way on the one hand, and invite in the God who created it all (and can fix it all) on the other hand and be so full, it takes both hands to take it in.

Never have I felt so full on a Daniel Fast before.

{I invite you to come back for tomorrow's Daniel Fast reflection, as I will continue my discussion of Brook's chapter on self control.}

~ ~ ~
Daniel Fast Reflections From the Beginning:
Day 1 :: Food
Day 2 :: Slow
Day 3 :: Foreign
Day 4 :: Hunger
Day 5 :: Life
Day 6 :: Free
Day 7 :: Praise
Day 8 :: Respond
Day 9 : Interruption
Day 10 :: Prayer
Day 11 :: Answer
Day 15 :: Taste

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  1. I hope the discussion on self-control has helped you in the fast, Dawn! THe other night I read that portion of the book aloud to my husband. We have been trying to eat better, cut out snacking at night. He mentioned getting a snack and I said, "put a frame around it!" I don't know. STill haven't found a way to tap into the unconscious to help me out with this one :).

    YOur link is up! So glad you are reading along.


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