On Old habits - Food
Coming back home is always a little rough for me. A lot of old habits that have been put on hold while living in Atlanta end up sprouting back up quite quickly in Maryland. I think now is a good time to address them in hopes that maybe others also struggling with them can find a little solace that you are not alone.
The first of these habits that I struggle with (more than I would care to admit) is being perpetually discontent with my body. I don’t know if it’s because there are so many more mirrors in this house than in my apartment, or that the majority of my friends here are cute petite Chinese girls, or that we hop from dinner party to dinner party and constantly overeat. Whatever the reason is, I can’t deny that my thoughts are often consumed by this and that I wish so much that they wouldn’t.
Honestly, I would prefer not to write about this publicly because I wish that I could look stronger than I am, but MAN - it’s crazy how pervasive this is among women and I think it’s necessary to put it out there in the open. I find that food is so tricky to have a Godly perspective about because we so easily distort it from what it is supposed to be. I don’t want to be a glutton, so I try to control myself. But I don’t want to be so controlled by calorie-counting, so I go ahead and eat. I want to enjoy food, so I eat dessert. But my body feels nasty after I eat dessert, so I vow that I will abstain from dessert! I want to have a body that is useful to the Lord, so I work out. But I don’t want to be consumed with how I look, so I don’t try too hard.
All in all, it makes for a very unhappy and miserable existence. I can’t resist food, I can’t enjoy food, and I hate myself for it. I am certain that this isn’t the way it’s supposed to be.
I think that God delights in us enjoying food in the way that He intended it. In Ecclesiastes, King Solomon comes to the conclusion that we should eat our bread with joy, and enjoy life in communion with others and with our God. I also think that we have to remember every day that our bodies are not our own anymore and were bought with a price, that they are a temple of the Lord and are His to bring glory and honor to Him.
I think that food can become our idol in two ways. One, by us indulging in it without control and polluting the body that was created by and created for God. Two, by being so consumed with what we are putting in our bodies and becoming obsessed with fashioning a body that we can use to impress others and attain some unreasonable ideal. Both ways disregard the fact that our bodies are the Lord’s.
Therefore, to have a right view of our bodies and a right view of food, we must hold fast to the fact that our bodies are God’s and not our own. They are for his glory and not for our own. This doesn’t mean that we just don’t care about what we put in our bodies anymore, nor does it mean that we excruciate over every calorie and every pound we put on. Instead, it means that whether we eat or whether we drink, we do it all for the glory of God. I eat healthy food and work out so that I can have a more healthy and more useful body with which to serve the Lord, not so that I can make guys think I’m attractive, or so that I can make my girlfriends ponder about good I look. (Men, you might think that women slave over their appearance primarily to impress you, but you are thoroughly mistaken! We dress up for girls, sorry to let you down haha)
So if eating a piece of cake with your friends brings you closer to them and exudes the joy and beauty of Christ more with them, go and eat. If you know that you have an addictive personality and love chocolate-covered popcorn, then don’t set yourself up to eat an entire super-size bag of it and then groan and complain about how little self-control you have and how much you hate yourself (No prior experience, of course…) Instead, let us eat with purpose - to enjoy what God has given the way He intended it for our pleasure and nourishment, and to enjoy fellowship and communion with the people that we eat with.
So thanks for sticking with me through this. Sometimes I find that I need to write things out that are in my head so that I can believe them more with my heart. It’s crazy how quickly I can forget truths, and I need to remind myself every day, seriously. May I become a less forgetful and more free daughter of God with each passing day.
I will leave you with the quotation that triggered this whole discourse, from a book that God has really used to change my life - Knowing God by J.I. Packer. It’s been a little paraphrased here:
Do I, as a Christian, understand myself? Do I know my own real identity? My own real destiny?
I am a child of God. God is my Father; heaven is my home; every day is one day nearer. My Savior is my brother. Every Christian is my brother too.
Say it over and over to yourself first thing in the morning, last thing at night, as you wait for the bus, any time your mind is free, and ask that you may be enabled to live as one who knows it is all utterly and completely true.
For that is the Christian’s secret of—a happy life?—yes, certainly, but we have something both higher and profounder to say. This is the Christian’s secret of a Christian life, and of a God-honoring life, and these are the aspects of the situation that really matter.
May this secret become fully yours, and fully mine.
Women (and men, too), I would love to hear your thoughts and responses if you want to shoot me a message or reply on here. Love you guys.