Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Like Manna from Heaven, The Secondi

When I left you yesterday, we were enjoying memories of food and fellowship in my life with an unfortunate hint toward a dimly lit road of gluttony moving forward.  It's time to serve...The Secondi...

It isn't unusual, especially in our society of indulgence and instant gratification, to have a pre-disposition toward overeating.  When access is plentiful, it's easy to overdo it.  But when the eating is done, not out of hunger or physical need but rather, out of emotional need, it becomes something of concern.  When I Googled "emotional eating," I was barraged with 64,300,000 hits.  (I guess it's a real "thing" after all!)  For years, because of my love for and history in food, I told myself that that's just who I am and I "felt okay" to become the little round, Italian food-maven with a big smile and a big personality plus a penchant for serving all of her friends and family delicious, comforting foods.  And certainly there is nothing wrong with adoring food and appreciating everything about it...if you are that person, I'm not criticizing!  But for myself, let's face it, folks...

Cool Ranch flavored Doritoes are not a delicasy...
Reese's Peanut Butter cups do not qualify as haute cuisine...
The last piece of cold pizza in the fridge is not a bite that will forever enhance my life.
Salty, sweet, salty, sweet, salty, sweet...if you or someone you know can identify with these six words and their pattern, keep reading!

No, I've known for years that my eating of "less elevated" foods was simply a bandaid for something that was missing in my life.  The reasons changed over time:  sometimes it was to mourn a loss; sometimes to avoid a fear of failing; sometimes to fill my boredom; sometimes to passive-aggresively hurt someone else; but always to distance myself from pain and fear.

Over the years, I have tried many different strategies to overcome this struggle.  I stopped eating anything that gave me pleasure - total restriction.  I tried exercising incessantly.  I tried just letting it go and do its thing.  This would work for awhile then I would cave and the cycle would start again, often worse than before.

I even tried "giving it up to God" - or at least I thought I did.  I would start on Monday and say, "God please take this from me so I can feel under control.  Please take away my hunger."  That level of effort should do it, right?  I should immediately be healed of my obsession, shouldn't I?  But as I traversed the week ahead, relying on the one prayer in the one moment, I would be shocked to find that God was not raining vegetables and a healthy eating plan down on me like manna from Heaven.  Nor was He taking away my hunger.  Nor was He motivating me to go on a run.  Where the heck was He???

Then last week, all of a sudden, it was as if the blinders had been lifted from my eyes for the first time.  I read "Strive to trust Me in more and more areas of your life.  Anything that tends to make you anxious is a growth opportunity.  Instead of running away from these challenges, embrace them, eager to gain all the blessings I have hidden in all the difficulties."  There I knew I had my answer.

For a week now, I have not hidden, I have not balked, I have not questioned.  Whenever I became anxious or sad or bored or lonely, rather than dash to the kitchen cupboard, I would say a simple prayer, "Thank you, God, for filling the emotional need in me that is making me hungry.  Fill that need with your spirit.  Thank you for showing me the way."  I would truly trust in that prayer.  Each time, my hunger disappeared.

So as I begin week two of this prayerful outlook, I praise God for showing me the way.  For using food, not to numb or depend or avoid or succumb, but as it was meant in all our lives...to strengthen, to sustain, to beautify, to share.  To be the miracle it was created to be.

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