Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Food



FOOD

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12:30

Every year I agonize a bit over what I will do or give up for Lent. I earnestly want to take the opportunity during this set-aside time to draw a little closer to God, to “fix my eyes on Him.”

So this year, I decided to go back to my childhood roots of abstinence and fasting. This simplified the “big decision” for me. I would abstain from meat on Fridays and take it one step further by fasting from Thursday evening till Friday evening.

I figured this wouldn’t be so hard. I fasted on Ash Wednesday and then again that first Friday of Lent. When I felt those gnawing hunger pangs, I did talk to God. And I got through those days fairly easily, with a little more focus on God than usual.

But by the second Friday, I woke up feeling a little blue. I felt bored, restless, even a little despairing! Hmmm…what was this? I spent a little quiet time with God, not paying too much attention to my mood, or funk, or whatever it was. But the feelings didn’t go away.

Suddenly, like an epiphany of sorts, I realized, “Oh…I’m mourning.” Now in light of my beloved father’s recent death, you might think I was mourning the loss of my dad. And I am, all the time on a certain level. But this was different. And it hit me like a ton of ugly reality bricks.

I was mourning the loss of my friend, my companion (I really hate to admit this), my borderline obsession, FOOD. Ugh! It’s true.

It dawned on me by about 10:00 in the morning that I was missing the constant flow of thoughts that run through my mind. “Hmmm…what do I feel like for breakfast? A multigrain bagel? No, too many carbs. How about a Greek yogurt with some granola and fruit? No. Not in the mood. Oh, I know, I feel like a flatbread breakfast sandwich—one piece of Taylor Ham, an egg, and just a sprinkling of sharp cheddar.”

Then the thoughts lead to a sense of anticipation. “Okay…I’ll go down to the kitchen. Maybe I should get my coffee first. Or maybe I should have a grapefruit or an orange to start things off on a healthy note…”

I take satisfaction even just thinking about the preparation and the enjoyment of consumption. And on this goes. From meal to meal. From day to day. From week to week.

I must admit, I was shocked at my realization. Food had truly taken over a much too large portion of my brain. It was “eating” away at my thoughts, occupying my energy. I was getting a sense of promise, excitement and, perhaps, hope from this single-minded focus.

During the period of about 18 hours that I couldn’t fixate on food, I was glum, disenchanted, sad, lost.

Oh yes, now I see it was a very good thing to give up food for a few hours a week. It made me realize my thoughts were captive to food instead of Christ. And I am thankful that God, in His mercy, used this opportunity to point this out.

Now it’s just a little over a week after Easter. I wish I could say I am forever healed of my food obsession. I’m not…but I am aware and I see there is a problem here. And isn’t that the first step? With hope in God’s power to heal and to help, I press on.

How about you? What is your mind captivated by? Worry…food…fun…shopping…the next cigarette…or anger over being mistreated? Bottom line, is your mind focused on what you want it to be focused on?

8 comments:

  1. There is a great book authored by a MITI mom in northern Minnesota about fasting. Check it out!
    Hunger Pains: A Women's Guide to Spiritual Fast by Cynthia Moe. She did a great workshop at a big event we had, Igniting Hearts for Prayer. Her workshop was, Hunger Pains: The Power of Fasting and Prayer for Our Children.
    Blessings, Jewel

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  2. What an epiphany! If more women knew this about the battleground of their minds, more might be set free of the stronghold of food. This convicted me of the strongholds in my mind: the "To-Dos". I go over my list of things to do, check them off, worry when I don't, make the next new one, on and on.... I want a mind captive to Christ's, one that is concerned about what he is concerned about. I can be certain his mind is not on his "To-Dos" but on his creation, his people and how he will love them and bless them!!

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  3. WOW! Can I every relate. Thank you Elise for putting this in words that so describe what it like to mourn for food. I am copying this and will keep it in my Bible and read it from time to time to help be realize that God does not want us to be obsessed with anything but Him. Thank you sweet friend. Kathleen

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  4. Great post, Elise!
    My biggest problem is more a lack of focus rather than being focused on the wrong things. I am so easily distracted. Of course, this does keep me from being focused on the right things - "Set your mind on things above."
    It's a constant struggle.
    Susan

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  5. I can truly relate to this blog about food. God has delivered me from gluttony, but it has taken time and I still struggle on a daily basis. It is a reminder that I need Him desperately every day. I went through the online study Setting Captives Free: The Lord's Table. It was fantastic and excruciating all at the same time. God did a powerful work in me and brought the emotional pain to the surface so He could heal me. Thank you for the reminder to fast in order to draw closer to God, keep our minds on Him and feed the Spirit instead of the flesh.

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  6. Such a blessing to hear from you all. And Susan, I can relate very well to the distraction issue. This is why I must get on my face, literally, before the Lord. Otherwise, I'm looking around, getting up, thinking about other things, etc., etc. The good news is as we truly press on, every once in a while, we see progress. And sometimes God does a truly mighty work and sets us free indeed.
    Thanks for the resource ideas too. Another great study is Breaking Free with Beth Moore. Just completed that one and the Lord certainly used it to show me one of my most pervasive strongholds. He came to set the captives free. For whatever holds us captive, let's claim this victory!

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  7. Just wanted to give Beth Moore's website
    http://www.lproof.org/
    Blessings!

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  8. Oh goodness, I hate to admit how much I do the same "planning out my next meal" thing. And how I get upset when I am fasting and don't get to devote all that time to food, and want to make the fasting as convenient as possible for me. It's amazing how much we spend our time focusing on things that become distractions. Food is not bad. Enjoying food is not bad. But obsessing over food when we should be focusing on other things, like, oh, I don't know...God. That's where it gets messy!
    Thanks for the reminder :)

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