GROVE CITY —
Just recently, I attended a conference at my church by author and speaker Lisa TerKeurst. It was a wonderful event with some 500 in attendance and a great opportunity for fellowship and fun with many other Christian women.
At the close of the event, my friend Carolyn and I headed down to the section of the church set up as a bookstore and she gifted me with a book written by Lisa called “Made To Crave.”
I’ve struggled with my weight on and off for a lot of my adult life and since hitting my 40s, it’s been a regular battle. I’d heard about this book but, quite frankly, really didn’t see myself being that motivated by anything I’d read; but having just listened to Lisa for a couple of days, and feeling very motivated by what she had to say, I thought, “Why not?”
Truthfully, it never occurred to me that there could ever be a connection between my relationship with God and my problems with food. I mean, I wouldn’t normally ever see a link there at all. My entire perspective on food has always been that I like it, like to eat it, like the feeling I get when I enjoy a tasty meal, and... well... I’m a little bit of an addict!
I’d venture to say many women would totally get what I mean. I make no excuses for the fact that I just plain love to eat. I was raised in a home where much was centered on food. My mother was an excellent cook, preparing foods rich with butter, cheese and sugar. My father was Italian, so we enjoyed many Italian delicacies growing up; including pastas like spaghetti, ravioli, cavatelli... you get the picture. We were also never deprived of desserts, which were plentiful. My favorites as a kid were graham cracker cream pie and homemade chocolate chip cookies. Mom made sure we always had something sweet and tasty around the house.
I was a very small child, so I never foresaw that weight would become an issue with me as I got older. As I grew, my figure blossomed and I was grateful for my new womanly curves. At what point did those curves become such a burden? It was probably when I discovered that for such a small woman, I had a very healthy appetite.
As the years have passed, I’ve found that this battle with my weight has affected me emotionally. I’m a person not very comfortable in my own skin, and although I really don’t have that much weight to lose to feel better about how I look, it’s how I feel in my present frame that’s beginning to take a toll on my near half-a-century-old body. I tire more easily; I see the extra pounds in the roundness of my face; my skin is changing; and I have much less energy than I used to.
So once more, I recommitted myself to a healthier eating and exercise plan. It began to fail at about week three. Then I gained 4 pounds, just by being me. So when we walked by the table of books and I saw Lisa’s lying there, I decided I’d give it a read.
One of the biblical parallels she makes in her book is with Mark 8:34. In Mark, Jesus tells us that if anyone wants to pursue him, he must deny himself, pick up his own cross, and follow him.
“Deny himself.” What does that mean, exactly?
Is it possible that in our relationship with Christ, it could mean that we must deny not just the obvious sins, but also those ones that might not be so obvious? Would most people see the over-indulgence of food as a sin? I, for one, didn’t perceive it that way. I mean, of course I’m aware that gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins, but when I think of the term “gluttonous,” I don’t link it to myself or the way I eat.
However, Webster’s dictionary defines gluttony as an excess in eating or drinking. Uh oh. That means that most of us in the United States, statistically, are indeed, guilty of gluttony. We are a fat nation. We have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and many of us are in the same battle I’ve been engaged in all these years: the battle to lose weight. So, is it that much of an impossibility to accept that over-eating is sinful, is connected to that which we must deny, and that our battle with the bulge is keeping us from a closer relationship with the Lord?
I didn’t see it before, but I can see it now.
Whenever I choose anything in my life that becomes more to me than him, it is sin. Whether it is a job, a hobby, drugs, drink, people, or even food, it is safe to say that over-indulgence in anything could keep us from a better relationship with God.
I think when we see ourselves becoming obsessive, unhealthy, and quite frankly, even dying over food, we might want to take the time to re-think our relationship with those things in life that we spend so much of our time on, derive our pleasure from, and worship.
I have “worshiped” food. Well, maybe not in the same sense that I worship Christ, but I really have lived too much of my life centered on what I’ll eat, when I’ll eat, how much I’ll eat, etc. I truly doubt that God looks down on us, sees us getting bigger, fatter, and unhealthier, dying of heart attacks and intemperance, and says, “It is good.” I would imagine his disappointment that we would allow something--anything--to come before him.
These are all very serious perceptions on this matter. But reading Lisa’s book has caused me to look much more in depth at not only what I’m eating, but what’s eating me. I’ve not arrived at a conclusion yet, but I’ve definitely been thinking much more about how my diet and my walk with Christ really can be related.
I’ve begun to be more accountable to myself, to want more health and less instant gratification; and I have admitted that there is an accountability factor where my diet and my relationship with God intertwine. 1 Corinthians 6:19 tells us that the body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, given us by God. It is not our own. When we examine this concept as it applies to our health, many of us--maybe even most of us--are failing miserably in taking care of this amazing gift that our Lord has given us; our body.
Food for thought.
God bless and have a great week!
Lisa K. Alessio is a lifelong writer and resident of Grove City. She writes on life, faith and family for Allied News. Reach her at alongthe way2009(at)yahoo.com.