My Dysfunctional Relationship with Food
And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts . . . Acts 2:46
Food and eating means different things to different people. Some see food simply as nutrition or fuel. They know what’s healthy and so, they eat only what’s healthy. Eating to them is a utilitarian concept. For others, eating is a focal point for the gathering of family and friends. Still others view eating as entertainment or as intertwined with entertainment.
I view food as yet one more thing that feeds my desire to experience pleasure. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – to enjoy food – except that I’m prone to developing addictive relationships with anything that provides immediate gratification. I find a behavior that stimulates the pleasure center in my brain and I repeat the activity. Once that’s done enough times, the behavior becomes compulsive, involuntary, and habitual. I no longer control my eating. Now, my eating controls me.
I know what and how much I should eat, but I want something completely different. Eating isn’t about nutrition or being social, it’s about immediate gratification. With eating, I find myself repeating similar behaviors as in my drug addiction. Sometimes, I eat alone, at night, when no one can see. I binge, feel guilty, and promise never to do it ever again. I’ll do well for a while, and then one small indulgence will lead to a full-blown relapse that lasts months.
The problem with eating of course, is that I cannot completely sever my relationship with food as I can with drugs. I have to eat something. So, I need to cultivate a healthy relationship with food. Today’s passage provides a brief glimpse into what a relationship with eating should look like. In the passage, those in the early church used food as an occasion to gather together. When they ate, they turned their minds to the one who provided for their needs. In love, they shared what they had with those around them. Eating was a way for the early church to practice their faith together.
I may be sober, but, like most of us, I still have my self-destructive behaviors on which I need to work. Eating is one of those struggles that I must daily drag before God, asking me what he wants me to do. Now, today, the challenge is to do it.