I met Julie last fall when I came across her engaging blog series The Poetry of Raising Boys. Because I sort of love poetry & have three boys - and she loves poetry & has 2 boys, we figured we were destined for friendship. Therefore, having her join us today in my virtual Living Room is especially fun. My only heartbreak is that SHE DIDN'T WRITE THIS POST IN RHYMING COUPLETS! Next time, she promises!
"A shadow of the real – spiritual truths from physical cravings" guest post by Julie Kieras
He leaned in and whispered, “Do you want some ice cream?” After a hard night of getting the boys to bed, my one thought was, We deserve this time together... and a treat!
So he handed me two scoops of in a porcelain bowl. It wasn't just cold and creamy sweetness, this ice cream spoke LOVE to my soul. My husband's love language is service and he was serving me ice cream. Yes, please. Before I could think “sugar fast” I'd already dug in, a slow savor of each cool drop.
Oops. Sugar fast, right?
When Wendy proposed a 40 Day Sugar-Fast a few weeks ago, I thought, “I’ve done the Whole30. This’ll be a cake walk!” Ah, but see, there’s the rub. No sooner do I commit to being off sugar, then I bring up… cake!? (Apparently, I have a serious sweet tooth.) I should have known up front that this was going to be a challenge, but I jumped onboard, expecting things to run smoothly. And they did. For the first couple of days I was pleased with my success. I purposefully left the sugar out of my coffee, said “no thanks” to a friend’s offer of a mint, and drove by the coffee shop (because their offerings of blended-frozen-caffeines would certainly be my undoing).
Yet here I am, 19 days in, confessing with chagrin the times I’ve caved. When the cravings won out.
When I read this post here about falling off the wagon, I was both smitten and encouraged by the idea that “life doesn’t just happen.” That bowl of ice cream, that's just one example of the excuses I made. But there's always an excuse. And I always have choices.
That was sobering. So I've been thinking through it all - nearly halfway in.
What was so important about having that ice cream? Why did I out of habit drop a spoon of sugar in my coffee without realizing it? Why did I choose to indulge instead of deny? What were those choices saying about my life, my dependencies, and in turn, my walk with God?
Immediately I berated myself for how I'd failed at self-control, but then I read this and found my ability to do this religious thing was never God's heart for me:
He wants me fixed on Him - on what He has to teach me throughout the fast.
As I sat there beating myself up for the times I stumbled, God showed me I had the wrong focus… I kept looking at the choices, the food, the results, and those things in my control. But that was never God's plan for me at all. He wanted to talk to me about my deep desire for perfection, and that natural instinct I have to gut-it-out in my own strength… that's what He wants to do in me. The food was just a shadow of the real heart stuff He was getting at.
“How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103)
David clearly saw the connection between physical experiences and spiritual experiences - physical sustenance mirroring our deep spiritual hunger! My deep hunger. The physical world simply a dim shadow, a hazy reflection of what is to come.
Therefore, let us look closely, then, through the lens of food, at our spiritual lives.
Bodies naturally crave sweetness, just as souls were created to crave the sweetness of His fellowship. Jesus spoke of "those who hunger and thirst after righteousness” (Matthew 5:6) and we believe it, so let us look to both sides of this same coin. Just as we were “made to crave” physical sweetness when we have emotional needs... can we learn to feast on His righteousness instead?
- I’m sad.
- I’m distracted.
- I’m being social.
- I deserve a treat
- I’m taking a break
Can the reality of our natural cravings prompt us to consume Spiritual nourishment? Wow! What a thought! So much simpler than figuring out what spiritual cravings look like and feel like. That sounds very elusive, don't you think?
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, my God... (Psalm 42:1)
No, actually, I don't have holy cravings all the time. And I can't seem to manufacture them either! But what if we use these physical cravings to remind us of the deep spirit-cravings that are harder to identify?
When my husband serves me that delicious, decadent bowl of ice cream… I am overcome by a raw desire to taste the sweet… so much so that I cannot resist… I want to desire Christ like that. But until I do... I'm asking God to use these hunger pangs like an invitation... To feast on Him, draw near to Him, to “taste and see” how very good He is.
I am most grateful for the physical blessings the Lord gives. For the pleasure of food. But I need to be careful that the pleasure of life doesn’t distract me from indulging in pleasure for the soul. Life, and all its sweetmeats, can never fill me.
I’ve had failures in this fast, maybe you have too, but I’m not going to let the failures overshadow the lessons. Remember, this fast is just a shadow... pointing us to the only One who can ever truly satisfy.
As much as I love a bowl of ice cream, and it satisfies my “sweet tooth,” that too is just a shadow of the spiritual sweetness I can enjoy in His Presence.
Crave Christ. Give in to the sweetness of His Words. But until you do... let the earthly cravings point you to Him. I'll be chasing hard right along with you.
*Written in collaboration with Wendy Speake!
Julie is a former English teacher turned boy-mom. She entertains the idea of a novel in her head, while making up her own lyrics to popular nursery songs to entertain her young boys. In between the mess, she has a heart’s desire to see her family and home grow happy and strong in their faith. She writes about natural living, raising kids in faith, family activities, and motherhood musings at happystronghome.com