Do I Control My Appetite or Does My Appetite Control Me?

Do I Control My Appetite or Does My Appetite Control Me?

1 Corinthians 6:12 All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.

In my food addiction, I have many times found myself at the refrigerator at 10:30PM, wolfing down 1,500 calories in just a few minutes.  My appetite demanded and I obeyed.  As the regret set in the next morning, I promised myself I would do better next time.  I prayed that I would change but I changed nothing.  That night, I would find myself back at the fridge, repeating the cycle of binging, remorse and false promises.

This, not incidentally, almost exactly mirrored my drug addiction.  In my addiction, I promised God and self that every time was the last time.  I will change tomorrow.  I promise I will never do that again.  God help me.  Like my food addiction, I changed nothing and thus, nothing changed.  When my appetite again reared its ugly head, I bowed to its voice and returned to behavior I knew to be destructive.  I literally knew that I was going to lose my family and my career if I continued, but I could not stop.  Every time, I lied, convincing myself that I could get away with just one more.

Though they have radically different consequences, my food and drug addictions feel very similar.  The cycle of toxic behavior, followed by remorse and broken promises, is quite universal to any appetite which controls me.

Most of us can identify with some behavior which seems to control us which we wish did not.  For some, it is something we desire: food, pornography, sex, drink, drug, money, status, affirmation, beauty or toys.  For others, it is some underlying predisposition to destructive behavior that does not even seem desirable, but is irresistible.  Those of us who get angry, do not usually desire to lash out, but we find ourselves doing so anyway.  We do not hunger for it like food or drug, but we cannot seem to stop.  Then after, we feel remorse and promise to do better next time.

Paul, in today’s passage, addressed those behaviors which control me.  Paul acknowledged that such things may not be wrong in themselves.  I may tell myself:  Eating is not a sin.  Everyone must eat something.  It is not wrong to indulge in the good life.  My appetite and stomach were made by God so I may enjoy his creation.

These are all, of course, true statements.  Food, drink and sex were created by God for our sustenance and pleasure.  When however, those things come to control our behavior, they become destructive.  When we become addicted, we become slaves to our own appetite, which always disables our pursuit of God.  When I am enslaved to my flesh, I do not pursue God as I should.

Paul said that though all things may be permissible, not all things are constructive.  Just because I can do a thing does not mean I should.  The measure of whether or not a thing is right or wrong is whether it pushes me towards God or self.  If a thing distracts from God and enslaves me, it is destructive, even if it is as innocent as the refrigerator.

2 Responses

  1. Wendy Haider says:

    Great analogy! I have to ask you..What to you think or feel keeps us in the cycle of pleasure, regret, and promises to change, but yet we don’t? I mean, exactly at the time when we are engulfed in telling ourselves, “That’s going to feel so good,” doing what we are, doing it and afterwards saying to yourself, “I screwed that up, what was I thinking? I will not do that again, tomorrow will be better.” At that direct moment..What do you think forces us to not think rationally about anything or just plain reality? Do you think mentally and physically, we are set up to do things out of pure pleasure only? Think, if God wasn’t a force to reckoned with in our lives, what we would do then? Would we continue to only do wrong or would we live a joyful life? I know that’s deep..I’m trying to figure out, for myself, what was causing me to only think about myself, to do bad things to others and myself, making wrong decisions that affected others and me negatively? Was my mind and body wired this way? What, then, clicked inside my head to do better? Was it just my doing, physically and mentally, or was God telling me with my own words every time I said that I would change and didn’t? These are some hard questions when one really sits down and thoroughly thinks about them. These are the tough questions, I, had to figure out and still continue to ask myself everyday in my quest to remain sober and having a loving healthy relationship with others and God! Right now, I just live with the fact that I am a better person, I love myself, I am not actively using, I do think before acting or saying and the Best part is I have God to trust in, to talk to, to worship! Amen!
    On a lighter note, Scott, what kind of food are you finding that you are able to eat low in carbs? Carbs are my worst, although I don’t crave or eat sweet food and never really have. I still find myself craving potatoes, any kind be it hashed, baked, fried, or chips and of course they are the worst for me. I have definitely decreased my portions. What do you eat or know of that are actually good carbs..I know there are some, I just don’t know exactly what they are? Thanks for always listening to what I have to say or I should actually say reading what I write and allowing me to explore myself from what you are saying..It has definitely helped me open up more to a lot that I have either pushed away or just chose not to think about!

    • Scott says:

      I’m sure the answer is complex and a little different for everyone, but I also think that we all have a basic desire for pleasure/joy. We all want to feel good. We of course, can try to fill that desire the easy (wrong) way or the more difficult (but right) way. We usually have to practice with the instant gratification route a couple hundred times before we figure out that it brings us more pain in the end. By then though, we are often in a habit (addiction) to that thing. Then, the behavior is really tough to change.

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