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Updated: Nov 11, 2022

Spiritual Eating Disorders Series (Part 3)

Of all the unhealthy eating cycles, this one hits closest to home for me, both in the natural and as an analogy. I am someone who can easily lose track of the amount of food I eat. I enjoy food. It perks me up when I'm sleepy, feels good when I'm grumpy or bored. Food is meant to do these things. The problem occurs when I choose foods that are devoid of nutritional value and cause me to feel even emptier than if I hadn't eaten. This leads to bingeing even more on worthless junk.

Certain foods create more hunger. They are addictive and cause you to want more than you need. You reach for a snack and instead of satisfying you, you feel even more starving than ever. So how does this apply spiritually? Let's look at what we feed ourselves emotionally and spiritually. Where do we turn when we are sad, disappointed or bored? Do we flip through social media? Do we open the fridge? Do we escape into worlds of fantasy? Those escapes are effective in the moment, but devoid of substance. Like sugar, they give us a quick high, but then leave us more bereft than before. The help they offer is superficial and short-lived.

John 4:13-14

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The Bible says that what the world offers does not satisfy. Only God can. So if we are spiritually hungry, we need to reach for His sustenance, not the artificial substitutes that are easy to come by. When we feast on His word and His presence, we are filled to overflowing. We are satisfied in ways that no other substance can offer.

Lord, I confess that when I am low, it's so easy to reach for the junk. I turn to distraction, I turn to empty indulgences and sin, instead of reaching for You. Forgive me for the idolatry I practice when I stuff my face with what the world has to offer. Help me to place You on the throne of my heart anew. Fill me, Holy Spirit, as only You can. In Jesus' name. Amen.

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Spiritual Eating Disorder Series (Part 2)

Last week my blog talked about how, with anorexia, people control of their appearance by controlling their caloric intake and level of exercise. As a spiritual analogy, that might look like not taking in enough spiritual food to sustain the works we do for God. We look good on the outside, doing all the church-y things, but we are spiritually weak. This week's analogy differs from anorexia, in that the affected person is taking in loads of food, instead of starving themselves, but they somehow remain underfed.

Bulimia is known as the binge and purge disorder. It's when someone takes in an inordinate amount of food (bingeing) and then gets rid of those excess calories by throwing up, using laxatives etc. The point here is that the food they intake makes them feel emotionally good, but they prevent it from growing them physically.

Have you ever encountered someone whose sole entertainment is listening to preaching and Christian music, yet they don't exhibit the fruit of the spirit in their lives? Maybe they spend hours each day reading their Bible, but they are petty, judgmental, greedy and unkind. This, to me, is spiritual bulimia. They are taking in the spiritual food that should strengthen and grow them, yet somehow they are staying spiritually weak and immature.

In Matthew 13, Jesus talks about this very phenomenon in the Parable of the Good Soil.

Matthew 13: 5-6

Some (seed) fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.

As Christians, it isn't enough to immerse ourselves in Christian culture that feels good. We can ride the highs of emotionally stimulating music and motivational preaching, but never let the word do its refining work in us. In one ear, out the other is no different than the binge and purge cycle of bulimia. It's even worse if we regurgitate the word for others without allowing it to nourish us first.

Lord, forgive me if I have taken in more food that I can healthily digest. Forgive me for aborting the process that would make spiritual food sustain me, voraciously grabbing for the next word, the next spiritual high. Teach me how to feast on your word mindfully. Show me how to allow your Holy Spirit to bear fruit in my life, commensurate with the amount of spiritual food I am taking in and should be producing myself. I want to grow according to your plan for me. Amen.

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Spiritual Eating Disorders Series (Part 1)

This subject has been percolating in my heart for weeks, if not months. I'm hoping that as I write it out, I'll personally get a bit more clarity on what the Lord is trying to teach me.

It started out with me watching a short video about a young lady suffering from anorexia. The video pointed out that anorexia leads to starvation in situations where the person has access to the very food they are starving for. In that moment, the thought came to me, "This happens spiritually, too."

How can someone who has access to food be starving? How can someone willingly put themselves through a process of suffering and slowly dying? Anorexia is oftentimes a response to something else: a trauma, depression or anxiety. The root is often the need to be in control when life feels so out of control.

In today's world, we have more access to God's word than ever before. Most American Christian households have multiple copies of the Bible and various other Bible studies and books just sitting on the shelf. With internet access, thousands of free resources are available at the touch of a button. With all of that spiritual food at our fingertips, how many of us sit down at the banquet and refuse to eat?

Hebrews 5:12-14

12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

Are we taking advantage of the rich foods, the meat, God has provided for us? Or are we too stubborn to trust His provision? Do we submit to His food plan and grow, or do we resist, clinging stubbornly to spiritual milk that doesn't provide the nutrients we need to be strong?

You don't become a spiritual giant by starving yourself or working yourself to the bone. How many of us work tirelessly for God, burning more spiritual calories than we are taking in? We run ourselves ragged doing, doing, doing, but not taking in enough to sustain our spiritual health.

Maybe we are diligent in our devotions, but we still feel the extreme fatigue of spiritual malnourishment. If so, we need to take a step back and ask God to reveal His personalized health plan for our lives. What once was enough may not be sufficient as we grow. We need to submit to His plan for us. He made us and He knows exactly what we need. By giving back control, we can recover from spiritual anorexia and grow healthy and strong.

Note: This is Part 1 in a Spiritual Eating Disorders Series. Part 2 will be on Spiritual Bingeing.

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