hunger unmasked: spiritual situations

At the root of all non-physical hunger we find a spiritual void. This brings us to our final hunger in this series. I’ve saved it for last, but not because it’s less important, quite the contrary.

Spiritual Hunger

So many of us know exactly what King David means when he says, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.” Only we think we’re panting for a new car… or a new job… or a new spouse… or a thick, gooey, sugary cinnamon bun.

When you consider a deer “panting” for water, you can rightly say, “the deer needs water or he will perish”. Likewise, David needed God. His hunger would not be satisfied by anything else.

For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, ‘Lord, evermore give us this bread’. And Jesus said unto them, ‘I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger ; and he that believeth on me shall never * thirst‘ .” ~ John 6:33-35 (KJV w/ Strongs)

Jesus isn’t speaking about physical hunger here, not really. He’s speaking of spiritual hunger. Obviously He knew we confused our spiritual needs with our physical ones, otherwise He would have addressed this an entirely different way.

God tells us in Mark 12:30, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” I think it’s safe to say He wants us to love Him with our whole being. He didn’t leave a single part of us out in this verse. Our whole being matters to Him. He made us the way we are, and so doesn’t it stand to reason that we should seek Him in regard to our hunger?

There are numerous passages throughout the Bible which speak of God satisfying our hunger and thirst. I challenge you to go on a search for them. He says it over and over because He knows we’ll forget that He satisfies us on a level that food cannot reach.

I simply love Beth Moore’s water illustration from Breaking Free. If you’ve never done that study, oh you are missing out! Anyway, Beth is talking about the story of the woman at the well and Jesus’ offering of “living water” (see John 4). Beth has two vases. One she fills with all kinds of objects – some of which include: cheetos, toy cars, money…etc. This is to represent all of the things with which we try to satisfy ourselves. She holds up the vase and shows that there is a lot of space left in the vase that the objects simply couldn’t fill. The second vase she simply fills with water. She points out that the water completely fills every bit of space in the vase.

This is why we need the living water. We’ve got spaces that cannot be filled by anything else. What we need is Jesus. If you have no idea how to have a relationship with Jesus, you can click on the link above, or feel free to ask in the comments. Addressing our spiritual hunger will go a long way toward dealing with our hunger in general.

While I do have Jesus, I still struggle to keep my priorities in proper perspective. I’m human after all. I get really off track when my focus is on dieting. I thought for years that my diet obsession was somehow honoring God because I was trying to treat my body like a “temple”. The problem was, I began to worship the temple, and the work on the temple, more than I worshiped the God who resides there. This is really problematic.

As I close this series on hunger, I would like to invite you to join me for the next part of my journey. A friend told me about the book Thin Within by Judy Halliday. I think there are different versions of this book, but the link I’ve included will take you to the version I’m using. It is supposedly a 30 day journey through intuitive eating from a Christian perspective. I do like the idea of breaking down the practices of naturally thin eaters into daily bits with Biblical backing.

Now, I haven’t read this book, so I am reserving the right to terminate my involvement if I find the book to be an advocate of diet mentality or if it grossly misrepresents the Word of God. It is my hope that this resource will teach us to allow God to meet our spiritual needs while addressing our situational hunger and learning to eat like a natural intuitive eater.

I will begin posting a series on my personal journey through the book beginning Friday, April 17th, but be on the lookout for tomorrow’s announcement. It will share more details about how we might move through this book together. I’m giving you a week’s notice so you can get the book if you want to join me.

the fullness side

I’ve got “hunger” down. I think. I mean, in this bizarre journey, can I ever be certain that I’ve mastered any part of it? Especially when I seem to be hanging out at the same increased size. Still, I think I know how to recognize physical hunger now. I get a growling that feels almost like a burning between my solar plexus and my belly button. If I ignore this, I will have a headache. Thirst is different, and is located in my throat/mouth.

Waiting for that physical hunger can sometimes be tricky because other stuff creeps into the equation at times. I keep having to remind myself that I don’t have to just eat because food is there… or because everyone else is eating… or because I’m bored… or tired… or emotional… or procrastinating. Checking in to see if I’m physically hungry is really important. There may be other physical needs that haven’t been met, but I don’t want to eat unless I’m actually needing food.

So, I wait for physical hunger (most of the time). I say “most of the time” because I don’t want that to become a “rule”. The diet rebel in me will kick back at feels-like-a-diet rules.

What I’m working on figuring out now, is what fullness/satisfaction feels like when it comes to food. Josie Spinardi talks about rating taste, and I am trying to tap into that. At first, I was eating past full without realizing it. I think I was rather afraid of being hungry later so I was “eating for the hunger to come”. The problem with doing this is that your body doesn’t work like that. If you eat when you aren’t hungry, it stores it for later alright, but as fat – eeekkk! I don’t need any more of that.

The other issue was not realizing I had eaten enough because I haven’t paid attention to these signals since I was a kid. I’ve relied on someone else to tell me how much food to have (when, what, & how much). So now, trying to interpret my body’s language feels like learning chinese at times. It feels so foreign.

Recently, I started to error on the side of undereating at a meal. I waited for hunger and then I was really trying to listen for when that hunger feeling went away. Well, it started going away only a few bites into something, so I would stop eating. However, then I felt really hungry only an hour later. This can be frustrating to say the least. A gal on the forum said it was like when the gas light comes on in a vehicle and you put in only enough fuel to make the light go off… you won’t get very far before it comes back on again.

This is where I have to reassure myself that I am allowed to eat whenever I am hungry, and if that means eating every hour some days, so be it. The point is to keep from inflicting external rules on my eating habits and to keep from allowing guilt into the equation.

It is true that the taste begins to wane, so I’m going to keep looking out for that. I also don’t entirely trust myself in reading my stomach’s cues. However, I’m going to keep trying. I have to remember that it took a bit to figure out hunger, so now I’m going to be patient and learn the fullness side.