Wednesday, May 20, 2009

longing: in response

My last post, which also ties in with my most recent colla voce post, received some very passionate comments from a few good friends. I responded to the colla voce post here, but wanted to likewise share some comments here in a more extended fashion. As it is getting late, and I am getting tired, I will respond to direct comments rather than trying to pull together a coherent line of thought, as I did on the other post. I'm sure you can handle it!

Cindy, I completely agree that not every longing is really masking a longing for God. My preference for chocolate over vegetables and the desire behind that has nothing to do with God. Ditto for any number of things. But when I ask myself, as any number of secular authors have encouraged me to do, "what am I really hungry for?" the answer is, obviously, not always food, nor is it necessarily something tangible or expressible. There are times when the answer is, legitimately, chocolate chip cookies. And so I bake them. There are times, however, more often than not, when no answer comes. When I can't figure it out. When the emptiness in my spirit is really what's behind the perceived hunger in my stomach (like I write about in the poem on the sidebar) and there's nothing else that will satisfy that. I believe that, in the deepest part of my being, I am starving for more than I am currently experiencing of God. And more often than not, I solve this by eating. I don't believe I'm alone in that.

As for the second part of your paragraph, I'm honestly not sure how to respond to that, because, to be honest, I do feel that way sometimes. And you know that. But I felt that way before the weight and food issue, so I don't think it is simply because some well-intentioned but poorly-thought-through Christian self-help book introduced the idea that what I'm really hungry for is intimacy with God, and then left me feeling powerless to attain it or manipulate it into being. I've felt that way for as long as I can remember, free of any one's "help." Is it me? Is it God? I don't honestly know. But that's part of what I'm trudging through currently, trying to understand what it means to "be intimate" with the God of the universe. I suspect I have a lot of it all wrong. Then again, I may have more of it right than I thought...

KP--I agree we must look at these things holistically, and talk about that within the other post as well, so I won't be redundant here. I can't recall the context of his quote currently, but if I recall correctly, his point was to be sure that people were taking addiction/compulsion holistically, by making sure the spiritual component was included in their consideration. (I also mention in the other post how we often, even as Christians, still want to leave this part out--though there are others, I admit, who want to single in on this area to the exclusion of all others.)

Now, I have to be honest that the "God made carbs" bit hits a nerve for me, because to me, that sounds Christianese-ish. I agree whole-heartedly that he made them, that they are good, and that all things are permissible, though not all beneficial. But I don't believe God created my compulsive urge to eat them WAY beyond the point of getting full, to the extreme point of gaining 10, 50, 100 pounds. Carbs aren't truly the issue, and of course we both know that. The issue isn't that I eat them, nor is it that I enjoy them. I believe both are okay. The issue is that, regardless of the food group, when my body signals tell me I'm full, another signal tells me that I desperately need more, and I cannot stop eating. This has nothing whatsoever to do with food. And this is what I'm trying to figure out in my own life through these ramblings here.

That being said, I agree that I, too, read quotes like this sometimes with the same feeling that "I always leave with no real clear sense of how to 'do better' or 'be better' but that I'm failing and somehow I'm missing the answer." Again, I don't know whether or not the context provides an "answer," but I don't know having that answer is the point, and that's part of what I'm trying to sort through in my head as well. It can't be about doing. It just can't. But I've not yet learned how to relax into this notion of being, and I do believe this will be part of the key. Not in a corny, hokey, "what the heck does THAT mean?" kind of way, but in an honest, seeking, what DOES it mean kind of way.

Lisa, I agree it's deeper than food versus God. Wholeheartedly. There are a multitude of things I'm hungry for that are not food--greater intimacy with my husband, more time to relax and enjoy my kids, sunsets along the Gulf Coast, the time to put words on paper. And I agree, as well, that there is, embedded within each of these things, a longing for God, because I know that I meet God and experience God in each of these things. (And I definitely experience God in chocolate chip cookies. Fresh from the oven. With a tall glass of ice cold milk. But I digress...) Are these things solely veiling a longing for God? No, I don't think so. I believe they are legitimate longings in their own right. But I do believe that there is a longing for God within each, and that the two are not mutually exclusive.

As far as trying to go about being this person who longs for God in my own way versus whatever way God may have us go about that, I think this is often times hard to discern. Probably because we're too dazed and confused from beating our head against the wall...

All this thinking has left me exhausted and craving a big bowl of Cinnamon Puffins. Is that a legitimate desire? Am I truly hungry? If so, what am I really hungry for? I don't know. Nor do I know whether or not I'll go eat them. But I do know this: I appreciate the dialogue and hope nothing I've said has offended. I don't have the answers. As LifeHouse sings, I don't want to pretend I do. I'm just tryin' to find my way, best that I know how.


  1. I like dialoguing like this. This is the closest I get to my longing to dive into deep conversation with others who are seeking truth. If we all agreed, it wouldn't be very fun and none of us would learn anything new. So, thanks for giving me something to think about and allowing us to post our thoughts along with you.

  2. How great to have found your blog! I'm working on a 4 week series for women at my church now who have just completed a healthy eating program. My series centers around our hunger and thirst for God and how to remain in that desire without trying to fill it with lesser fare. My blog focuses on desire, which you can check out here:

    I'll be adding your blog to my must read list!

  3. Ditto, Lisa!

    Eva, it's nice to meet you! I checked out your blog briefly during a break at work last night, and hope to spend some time on it this weekend!