I have a weird relationship with food. Like a strange, antagonistic food issue. And what's even more weird is that this food issue is 100% NOT related to body image... which is difficult to explain and probably even more difficult to believe.
See, here's the thing.... for as long as I can remember, food just hasn't really tasted good to me. I've always been a picky eater, and as I've become an adult I've started to realize that everyone else just seems to enjoy food in a way that I mostly don't. For probably 9 meals out of 10 I find the whole experience to just be... a chore. It annoys me. It takes up my time. This is also why I don't particularly enjoy cooking.
I've spent a great deal of time thinking about this, talking about this (thank you, mom, for your endless encouragement!), and even praying about this. Then, as I was talking to the BF about it a few weeks ago (yes, I'm pretty sure he was perplexed and concerned by this development haha) he said something that has truly been a breakthrough for me:
"M, have you ever thought that maybe you don't enjoy food because you never really let yourself get hungry?"
It was like the clouds opened and the Hallelujah chorus rang out! I don't know why no one (including myself) had ever thought about this before! Those of you who know me know that I am a chronic snacker. I have this irrational fear of being hungry, and so I literally end up eating every 2-3 hours. The problem is that my small-portion snacks end up tasting pretty good (probably because they are deliciously terrible for you like Doritos and string cheese) and full meals end up being awful because it's just too much for a stomach that's not all that empty. Seriously, it has been a serious breakthrough!
Why am I telling you all of this? Because as I've been newly discovering the feeling of being hungry and being satisfied, I've also been thinking about how this relationship of hunger and satisfication plays out in my spiritual life.
I would venture to say that I don't experience a lot of spiritual hunger. I pray, I spend time in the Word, I attend and serve at church, etc... but I'm not sure that I do it all out of a hunger for God or relationship with God. I guess I could say that I mostly do it because I realize the necessity of it (just like how I've kept on eating all these years even when I wasn't all that hungry). But I want to be truly satisfied by God... so I think that means that I have to be truly hungry for Him first.
Now, I don't think (in physical or spiritual life) the answer to creating hunger is starving oneself. I don't recommend closing the Bible and skipping church as a way to foster spiritual hunger. However, what I have learned is this:
You can't experience hunger if you fill yourself up with shallow excuses for real sustenance.
I think I tend to "fill myself up" on spiritual experiences that end up leaving me full but not satisfied. I go to church, or I read endless Christian blogs, or I lead the small group, and I decide that all that "counts" as my time with the Lord that day. And don't get me wrong, these things are not necessarily bad... but they are also poor substitutes for the real thing. It reminds me of the story of Mary and Martha (haven't we all heard that one 15 million times?). Mary was still before the Lord and experienced the fullness of His presence... and that was "what is better" (Luke 10: 38-42). I need to do that more. I need to not necessarily stop all my "spiritual snacking," but make sure that it doesn't take the place of true, sustaining relationship with God.
So anyway, I encourage you to think about whether you may also be experiencing my "full, but not satisfied" syndrome in your spiritual life. What are you doing or not doing that keeps you from being hungry?