|My Enormous Plate of Food at My Birthday Party
As a passionate person you might think it wouldn’t take much to get me fired up but I read a post last night that fell on my nerves like a 747 with stuck landing gear. It hit with a thud, dragging me down the runway leaving road rash on my emotional behind. I started to beat out a response on my iPod Touch and decided to wait until this morning. Be warned, both barrels are loaded.
The topic you ask? Addressing obesity in the church. Yes, because now church is a replacement for the Diet Center. The title “It’s Probably Time We All Talked About Obesity & The Church” was enough to raise my usually normal blood pressure but it was the fried chicken that sent me over the edge. I very rarely eat fried food but to think that someone would even suggest to their parishioners that from now on please refrain from bringing biscuits and chicken to the potlucks, oh and while your at it, make the desserts smaller.
Tackling the issue of “gluttony” as if it is the only link to obesity is short sighted and ignorant. To equate overeating to “illegal drugs, smoking, and alcohol abuse” is to over simplify the struggle. You can’t completely do away with food without that becoming a whole other issue. My pastor (a fit racquetball player) once said that being overly picky about your food is a form of gluttony as well. I agree. Are we going to set up adult sized high chairs for the congregation and make them eat their broccoli?
Does anybody really think we need to point out to someone that they are obese or that it is frowned upon? Do we really think that they don’t know this? Just how in this situation are we supposed to be our brother’s keeper?
Here is the conversation as I imagine it:
“Um, hey, Bill? You’re obese. Ya I have never had that problem but I believe it is my duty as your brother/sister in Christ to let you know that you need self control. That is mentioned as “Fruit of the Spirit” by the way. This is all to show you my love. (Another fruit I might add).”
It reminds me of the high school volleyball coach who sat next to me in the stands during practice one day. She “lovingly” told me that my thighs were like “cottage cheese” proving that I didn’t have a large frame but needed to diet. Then there was the 4’10” cheerleading coach that let me know I would have made the team senior year except I was “too tall” and “overweight”.
Where this author really misses the point is that those of us who have truly struggled with weight loss and eating disorder don’t save it for the potluck. In my darkest hours it was when I was hidden in the food pantry, stuffing down the pain and filling the loneliness with every salty bite I could get my hands on until I made myself sick. It was the fear of being hungry or not getting enough. The emptiness in me caused a hole that couldn’t be filled.
At potlucks I was a model citizen, an expert at taking only what I wanted you to think I was eating. At the time I fooled no one but myself. When I began starving myself, I had to pretend to be eating things that I wasn’t to deflect those who were concerned. Have you ever gone to a Chinese wedding feast? As the food spins around in front of you throughout the meal, you take a small piece on your plate, rub some mustard around and hope no one catches on to the fact that nothing has passed through your lips. Engaging in conversation is your only hope to distract from the truth. The fact that the unsuppressed need for control is in itself beyond your control.
My journey out of that place didn’t begin with a well placed sermon or more rules at a buffet. It started with a bold and loving friend that said “What are you doing with your life?” She loved me enough to know me. To have a real relationship with me and lead me into an intimate relationship with the One who knows me more. You know what else? She has never mentioned my weight. That hardly makes her unloving.
Jesus Christ died for me before I ate “right”. His grace was given freely to heal the pain and shine light into the places I’ve needed to see. He has allowed me to walk in this place of decision where it feels like the world doesn’t understand and accept who I am because in so many ways, I don’t fit in. We don’t need to tell each other what to do, we need to tell them who loves them. We need to lead them to who paid the price to save them.
So here I am, eating right, trying to exercise when I have the strength and I’m still a “big girl”. I am still a creation of the Creator of the Universe. If you are the type of person who sees my size first, my prayer is that it is my smile or my eyes or my heart that you will see last.
Let me be a woman of faith that spreads joy and love and compassion and
PS I have chosen not to link to the original post at this time.
Here are three more posts I have written on this topic. It is where I am at apparently.
My post on beauty addresses this too. It was featured at Chasing Silhouettes and you can find it here.
Just as I was ready to hit “publish” I saw this story on the news. Please take a minute to watch, I think you will find it timely.