There have been two times the conversation of food has come up in counseling. Once when I was 18 and once about a month ago.
Intellectually, I know now, at 29, how important it is to eat. I know how vital nourishment is to your body.
Over the years, I never got down to some crazy low weight. And I didn’t look malnourished.
But if you were to peel back the layers of my heart, you would see a rail thin girl, who had planted her feet in the ground and refused to be nourished.
I’d like to say up until a month ago, I was not that same rail thin girl internally. There’s been a lot of healing that has happened since then.
But inside, there was this deep rooted sense of starvation I just could not shake.
In counseling over the years, I’ve circled topics repeatedly. There have been seasons of realizing an intense breakthrough, but then there’s also been the nagging realization the root of these issues perhaps had never even been touched.
And my issues with food felt so much deeper than a desire to see a certain number on the scale or a smaller size stitched within my waistband.
I had some health issues come up this winter that threw me for a loop. And I found myself back on my counselor’s couch. I was in the throws of pursuing the "just take these pills" approach to healing, but after a few months of no progression, it was time for a holistic approach. And as crazy as it sounds, there was this discernible voice in my head and heart saying the medical issue had a lot to do with my relationship with food.
For the record, I am not a cook. Meals in the past consisted of standing, being on the go, and lots of pre packaged, under 225 calories, “health” bars. If the meal couldn’t be microwaved within 4 minutes, it was not going to be eaten. And this pattern went on for forever.
I decided to give the holistic approach to healing a try-so I started cooking with whole food. Food that is nourishing and full of all the good things, fat and all. I gave up the cardio binges and "health" bars and started sitting when I ate.
So that week, when I made the change, I met with my counselor, told him what I decided about going the holistic route, and then we talked about food.
You know when you bring a certain topic up nonchalantly only to realize moments later you just opened pandora's box of tears...welp, that's what happened.
Once the tears passed, we talked about the prodigal son and the self-righteous brother. Because those two were all that were coming to mind during our conversation about eating and nourishment.
I could see the both of them. One physically starving from malnourishment of pursuing a life he simply never was suppose to. And the other, the one who had never veered from his Father’s side, yet inside was still spiritually starving.
But sitting with my counselor that day, there was a new picture of these two brothers coming to mind. And it was their Father’s table.
It was a table filled with the most decadent, satiating feast, anyone could possibly imagine. And it was available for the both of them: the one physically starving, and the one who’s soul was sucked dry.
That table had everything they both needed. It represented wholeness, healing, and a holy satiating this world simply could not offer.
But both of them struggled to eat. Despite the provision. Despite the feast before them, despite the endless amount of food, the eating, it did not come natural to them.
The prodigal had spent so much time living in excess and binge mode, he forgot what enough felt like. He thought the satiation of the world could offer a much sweeter, more pleasurable kind of food. And so he left his father’s table, and all his provision, to chase after the mirage of nourishment the world put forth.
And then the other brother, while he never left home, decided he needed to go earn, and prove, and work to maintain his Father’s provision.
Ultimately both these boys, they chose a deliberate form of starvation. It was a starvation defined by the sin of not consuming their Father’s provision.
One thought there was a better kind of provision out there and the other thought he had to earn the provision.
But neither were true.
Their Father’s provision was always available for them. That table was ready to be set and the best food was ready to be prepared whenever they called out in hunger.
I think God is asking all of us who are either physically or spiritually starving to come sit at His table, to come be by His side, but more than anything to come and eat the provision He has prepared for us; and to trust that whatever we find there is just what we need for nourishment. All we have to do is eat.
I've still got a ways to go with this topic. But for the first time in my life I can use the word freedom and food in the same sentence. Oscillating back and forth between being hungry vs. overindulging, is a balance I will likely have to work hard at.
But today, my prayer is that if you find yourself relating to these words, just know there's a seat at that table for you too. And everything you need, everything that has been prepared, it is just what you need for true nourishment. So even if it is just for a few minutes, may you slow down, take a breath, and open your eyes to the realization you have a heavenly Father who is looking to give you exactly what you need, all you have to do is pull a seat up at His table.