by Jenny Tisi
Matthew 11:19 “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard….’
When I saw this quote from the Bible in another Lenten Meditation book, I remembered a story from 8 years ago. A dear friend and fellow children’s choir director said to me “Won’t it be great when you can walk in to conduct a room full of kids for a festival and you can instantly win them over with the way you look, instead of with your personality and skills?” I knew what she was saying. First impressions are real. It hit me hard. I was approaching 300 pounds and I needed to get a grip.
Gluttony. I speak from much experience. So much so, that it was deeply affecting my health and my ability to enjoy my life. Food, glorious food … the legal addictive substance. I suppose in moderation, it is glorious. I am not one who handles “in moderation” well.
It is a tremendous challenge to avoid the temptations of food in this country. There is truly no place you can go to escape food. There are advertisements on billboards, commercials on TV, ads in newspapers, write ups of the best places to eat in magazines, recipe posts on Facebook, the “calling” from your refrigerator when you are home, the plate of cookies on the staff room table, and that’s just to name a few. We are a country obsessed with food. We watch cooking shows, take pictures of our food and post pictures of it so that others can be jealous of what delectable meal we are eating, read about it, write about it, stare longingly into bakery windows, and compete against each other as to who can make it the best and the fastest. Food is a source of entertainment, fulfillment and joy, and as a nation, we are paying for it in every way.
I decided to change. It hasn’t been easy and has taken much time reflecting on what I want for my life. I have yo-yo’d up and down over these years. And even though I have a better grip on it now, it still haunts. Being addicted to food is, in my opinion, the hardest addiction of all. In many of those cases, you can go days, weeks, or in some cases, the rest of your life without seeing encountering the addictive substance. But food? Every. Single. Day. And what is worse, is that you have to actually ingest the addictive substance, while you try to beat it.
So how do I get through it? I reflect. A lot. The only thing that has helped me reduce the gluttony in my life is to change my mind about what food really is. It actually takes meditation before, during and after a meal. It’s nutrition and medicine. Period. Any other thought about it gets me into trouble. I don’t overdose on medicine, therefore, I shouldn’t overdose on food. Medicines are designed to heal. Am I eating foods that heal my body? Is the 5-10 minute burst of amazing flavor or feeling I get from eating food more important than a lifetime of healthy living? I want more for me and my life. And this time, it’s not more food. It’s more living.
Where is God calling you to choose health this Lent?