Yesterday, I found myself with a familiar pain in my heart. Longing. Loneliness. Ache. I found myself repeated sitting at my desk just staring into spacey-space, imaging a different life than the one I have now, and that certain place in my heart felt especially empty. I then started to get mopey and sorry for myself, lamenting what I do not have. I wish I could say that right away I saw the trap in front of me and that I, like Gandalf the Gray, grabbed my staff, jammed it into the ground, yelling “You shall not pass!”
You know what it really was that triggered my mind to what I was starting to do? Food. I was thinking about food. And how I could get my hands on it. Ice cream. Double-decker cheeseburgers. Cherry-coke-easy-ice. Chocolate. You name it, I wanted it. Needed it. Now. I would feel better if I just had something tasty to eat.
I've heard it all my life – men visually struggle when they're weak and women go to food. When I was younger, I'd heard women talking about their struggles with eating and I'd be like, “geez, lady, just stop eating!” I thought it was simple like that. But now I am a fully grown woman and I have become one of those women who find themselves defaulting to food to fill the emptiness not in their stomach but inside their heart.
But there is only one problem in the world that food will fix. Just one problem. Know what it is? Starvation. And me, with an extra-large smoothie and pretzel for breakfast, two enchiladas packed in my lunch bag, 30 extra pounds around my waist and a budget that could certainly afford to buy myself a lunch should I need to, I am far from starving.
So, really all I was doing was looking to food and it's satisfaction as my solace instead of Jesus. And here I am, striving to live my life by the power of the Holy Spirit and by a standard of what’s Truth. But instead of reminding myself of God’s truth when I began to feel sad and needy, I started looking around for the nearest bag of potato chips. And I've yet to heard of how potato chips solved anybody's problems.
What IS God’s truth in those kinds of moments?
I was feeling lonely. But…. “ the LORD your God...he will not fail you, or forsake you."
I was longing. But… “And the LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and make fat your bones: and you shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters will not fail.”
I was missing having someone special. But… “the Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; he holds my lot.”
I felt empty. “In His presence, there is fullness of joy.”
I’m really glad that God pulled me up short at that moment, because it was the first time that I’ve consciously recognized that moment when I began gravitating towards my comfort zone…which is, ahem, my comfort food.
But gee really, can something so basic and necessary as food become a form of escapism? You bet it can! Food can become as effective and addicting as drugs, alcohol, smoking, etc. It’s a place to drown your sorrows, an avenue of blocking out the voices in our heads and hollow silence in our heart. But it never really satisfies, as no lies ever do. All you get from escaping into food... is 30 pounds overweight. Which is where I'm at right now.
It’s not easy to go to Jesus when you’re lonely. I’ll admit it for the sake of all womankind. As wondrous, spectacular and GOD-LIKE as God is….we don’t see Him physically with us. As comforting as His leading hand is…we don’t get to physically feel His hand holding and caressing ours. As significant as it is to belong to Christ…His visual presence is not next to us, giving us credit as desirable in the eyes of others around us. We have to go to Him in our mind and in our hearts, and remain standing alone in the physical world. Turning to Jesus often does feel less satisfying when it comes to choosing between what's right and what feels right.
So, this yesterday afternoon, as I sat in my office feeling lonely, achy and really, really wishful...I had to decide what it was going to be: food or Jesus. When put that way, it's really not a hard choice to make. But once the choice is made, the acting on the choice is what's difficult. For me, it meant I needed to stop thinking about food and how I was going to get my hands on some ice cream or something as soon as I got off work. I had to take each foody though captive. Okay, that sounds funny; you don't typically think of food when you read the verse “and take every though captive to the obedience of Christ.” We think of anger, jealousy, lust, evil thoughts...not food. But if food is your area of sin (like me), then thoughts of food are exactly what need to be wrapped up in chains and given the proverbial boot. And as with most sins, once isn't enough. I had to repeatedly say to myself, as more thoughts of food came to mind, “food is not the answer. Jesus, you are enough.” It becomes almost a mantra.
If you struggle with compulsive eating, or find yourself putting on pounds as you escape from hard reality into the escapism of food...you've got a friend in me. :)