What do you think a godly woman should look like? Should she be a model of self-denial, at the perfect weight? Or comfortable with wearing the shape that time and life impose on her?
Remember that scales are a recent phenomenon, and until the last century were not put into use as objects of self-torture. I think our obsession with the perfect number is a little silly.
We expect a lot of ourselves. We want to give careful attention to body maintenance and care, yet avoid being obsessed, you know? We want to purchase and cook these amazing foods, but also be able to say no to them, right? We want to like ourselves, but not be like, um, vain or anything…
We can starve ourselves into losing a few pounds, which we immediately regain when we go back to regular eating habits. We don’t know if we’re horrifically undisciplined or just normal. We don’t know if it’s good to work hard to be “in shape,” or if that’s giving place to the flesh. (The too-much flesh.) Sometimes we don’t even know if we’re overweight or not.
We dance this dance between temperance and pleasure, between humility and confidence, between discipline and freedom, between enjoyment and abstinence. All of these are good words. All of them.
Last fall I had a little epiphany, in which I realized that the perfect weight is the one at which I am healthy, active, joyful, and self-controlled.
What is it about women and food?
We have to be awake to sensory stimuli of some kind. As we grow older and our nerves are no longer jangling over boys and volleyball, food starts meaning more to us. It tastes better—stronger and sharper and creamier and sweeter. Oh, that food.
It almost keeps us company, you know? The nights when hubby is gone, the mornings alone in our apartment, the quiet lonely times, the celebrations—
I think it’s important not to begin connecting food with either selfishness (I want way too much) or shame (I dread even the little I eat). Food was given us both for nourishment and for joy.
The joy part is often taught only by secular culture—they showcase its temptations in almost orgasmic cooking shows, labeling it “sinful” and “decadent.” We Christians prefer to think of its practical aspects—we bow our heads over it and murmur “Thankyouforgivingusthisfoodtonourishourbodiesmayweusethestrengthinthyserviceamen.”
Nourishment is one aspect, but the joy part is also of God. If he wanted only to nourishourbodies do you honestly think He would have taken the trouble to create such a rainbow, such a glorious arc of nuanced flavor and texture? He could have kept up that manna, or brewed a sort of miracle gruel with perfectly balanced nutrients and the flavor of outdated bran flakes… But no. He serves it up with a side of serious rejoicing.
“Thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the Lord thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household.” Deut 14:26
“He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; and wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart.” Psalm 104:14, 15
Did you skim over those verses? Go back and read them for real.
The soul? The heart?
Tut-tut, that’s emotional eating.
Nonsense. It’s Biblical.
But it’s also important that we allow the Lord Jesus to rule our desires. So quickly we turn our pleasures into taskmasters. In Christ we are not at the mercy of our bodies, neither their cravings nor their demands nor their whining nor their genuine needs. We have a sustaining Source of nourishment that allows us to live by more than bread alone. Food should be received from Him: a sheer delight, not a secret master. Its bright pleasure is not improved by the dusky shades of self-indulgence and guilt.
What if instead of arranging our goals around our weight (this is what I want to weigh), we arranged them around our habits (this is how I want to live)?