I like to sing repetitive refrains that tout the virtue of fresh foods still covered in soil, about the inside-out cleansing when enough cool water has made its way down the human gullet, but I am the mistress of Diet Coke and cookies. With one hand I prep chicken breast and with the other I fry up tempura-battered anything and this is just the balancing act. I’ve been doing this number for almost thirty years and I know the steps well.
Yes, we want to be better, and yes, we know better but also, yes, sugar and carbs feel good.
But this is not about food, at least I don't think, not completely. Am I overcomplicating my plight when I say that I'm trying to assert control over something in this scattered atmosphere? Is it psychosis when I say one thing and do another, despite knowing better, despite understanding and feeling the consequences? Or do I just love the little rush of a commonplace high when my taste buds come into contact with something forbidden but so, so good? Probably, probably.
The more I think about it, though, the more "forbidden" seems counterproductive. To place something with my human paws behind that line in the ever-shifting sand is to slap a label of lust on its lid. If it is said that I can't have it, I want it all the more. This is as old as Eden-- tell us something is good and tell us something else is bad and we will walk, justifying all the way, toward the things most likely to kill us. But hey, it will taste nice.
From this inclination comes the temptation to hide from ourselves, to deceive ourselves, to guilt and guilt and guilt ourselves into a grave we dug with a shovel all our own. Hymns of holiness, practices of contempt.
What if food (okay, yes, food, but we all know I'm talking about bigger fish, which would be tasty fried, would it not?) was both/and? What if we reached a naughty toe toward that divide and smudged the mark of shame which mars our decisions like raggedy scars? Maybe we can trust that Divinity did draw the boundary lines in pleasant places. Maybe we can release ourselves from our own destructive constructions and lean against the structure God built, instead.
The pasture has a fence, but it is wide and green.
Sugar? Taste and see, it is good from time to time.
Carbs? Fuel and cozy hearth fire, worth cuddling up to now and then.
Salad and white fish and water? Energizing provision, fresh and purifying and wild.
Peace is wholehearted and humiliation wastes time. Yeah, yeah moderation. Wisdom, of course.
But right now, instead of self-flagellation, I am going to eat a marshmallow after filling my belly with vegetables for dinner l and know that God still loves me, and that there are other trees in the garden.
Cross-posted from "Reflections on Faith, Words, and The Holiness of Today"