I is for Idolatry

Now that National Novel Writing Month is complete, I am back to blogging. In between writing Mercy and Justice, performing, and directing, I’ve been thinking about lots of things that I want to blog about. Not to expound upon my wisdom, but as a way of processing. Before I can get to new and exciting things, I must return to Elyse Fitzpatrick’s Disciplined Eating questions.

I’ve had an interesting month with my food addiction. Some days were great. The last two weeks have been very tough with the added stresses of theatrical productions. With everything that’s been going on I haven’t taken the time to reflect and pray for discernment about why I struggle this way. This is really just a symptom of a deeper problem, my commonplace but horrific tendency of making everything in my life more important than God, thus quickly pushing Him out of my schedule. This happens because I worship pretty much everything more than I worship than my God, which leads me to the second of Elyse’s acronym.

I is for Idolatry.

“Does eating this particular food demonstrate either a heart of independence- ‘I can do whatever I want’ or a heart longer for pleasure?”

Exodus 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me.”

The first half of this question strikes home for me more than the second, and is less conflicted. Often when I over eat, I am over eating because I tell myself that I should be allowed to eat whatever I want, without regard to whether it is God honoring or if it makes me feel sick.

For example, I get angry that God has given me a body that, at least at this moment of time, does not respond well to dairy products. If I eat dairy, especially milk and ice cream, my intestines cramp and my muscles spasm. There are times when I will purposely eat dairy to prove to God that I am in control of my body, and that I can eat whatever I darn well please.

That works for about a day. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, the reaction holds off for a while, giving me the brazen courage to eat more of the forbidden fruit. In the end, the reaction always comes. It’s just a matter of time and a question of severity.

Pavlov’s dog was smarter than I. He learned how to connect the dots and respond appropriately. Whereas I stubbornly shake my fist, refusing to give the foods that negatively effect me a wide-birth. I believe this falls into the idolatry of control.

The second part of the question is more difficult for me, and I am still trying to figure out whether it is a balanced way of approaching food. I may have misunderstood her, but I believe in her book she promotes only eating when you are hungry. If I always followed that logic, I’d never enjoy chocolate, unless I throw away the principle of eating for sustenance and health.

Maybe this is my stomach, not my soul, talking, but I feel like there must be some room for enjoying food just for the mere enjoyment of food: its taste and texture, its sweetness and saltiness, the way it can bring people together.

The Bible talks about eating honey, but not too much of it lest you be sick. There are provisions in the Old Testament for families to go to Jerusalem and buy whatever they want to feast before the Lord. So I have trouble with the idea that we are never to feast (which may not be what she is saying). Perhaps the problem lies in the fact that we are feasting all the time in America.

 

For me personally, I think I struggle more with using food as an idol of comfort than of pleasure. I often will got to a binge when I am upset before praying or even talking to other people. I idolize the “freedom” that food can give me from my problems, whether it be found in comfort, pleasure, or an activity to numb the pain.

So when I go to eat, I can ask myself “do I have any doubt that I am free to eat this right now?” If yes, I can wait a bit to discern whether my doubts are justified or a lack of grace. Or I can ask myself, “Am I eating out of idolatry, worshiping this food because I believe that it can do more for me than the God who died for me can?”

Now if I would only take the time to ask myself those questions.

 

Interestingly enough, last Sunday (11/30) my pastor preached on idolatry, and one of the ways he described idols was the means by which we try to get right with God. That made me realize I have another idol mixed up in my relationship with food.

I’ve got the idol of comfort, independence, and pleasure that prompt me to abuse food by overeating. I’ve got the idol of beauty and acceptance, which prompt me to abuse food by mistrusting it, fearing it, and sometimes refusing to eat it. And I’ve got the idol of control and perfection which prompts me to believe that if I can only get my eating and my weight under control, I’ll be right with God and everyone else. Essentially, I’ve been abusing food as a means of self-worship and self-righteousness.

I’m glad the Holy Spirit has made me aware of that. I’m hoping that it will help me in my struggle to overcome the addiction and to rebuild a proper understanding of food and body. If I can focus more on Jesus instead of trying to earn His favor, I may find it easier to rest in Him rather than in other idols.

Regardless of how much ‘success’ I achieve in my battle with food, I am very thankful that Jesus has paid it all, and that I am perfectly loved and accepted as I am now in Him. Jesus is not ashamed to call me His sister, and God is not ashamed to call me His daughter even if I struggle for the rest of my life with addiction and sin…which I will in one form or the other. Praise Jesus for His great love and for His great sacrifice on the cross which makes His love possible.

 

 

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4 thoughts on “I is for Idolatry

  1. What a powerful question this is:
    Or I can ask myself, “Am I eating out of idolatry, worshiping this food because I believe that it can do more for me than the God who died for me can?”

    “but I believe in her book she promotes only eating when you are hungry.”
    Sounds sensible, but eating, as you note, is not JUST about sustenance. It’s social as well. As a Catholic, my calendar is filled with days of fasting (traditionally Fridays and Lent) as well as feasting – all sorts of solemnities and holy days. We’ve tried to restrict desserts in our house to Sundays, feast days, and other celebrations (birthdays, etc.)

    In the end, it’s all about the interior motive, which is what makes your question above so pointed and valuable.

    Like

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