If you have been hanging around here for the last week, you know that I got generally hacked off at my skinny jeans, my pain, and… well, yeah, basically those. Wooly baa lambs don’t waste a lot of energy feeling irritated, and neither do I, but I confess frustration at my body’s misbehavior — what kind of turkey puts on weight when you are faithfully sweating and eating reasonably?? Mine, is the answer. We haven’t been on speaking terms for days (“What’s that? You feet down there are cold? TOUGH! Get your own socks!!”). I am not pretending this is logical. Obviously, I and my body have some level of oneness and I am awfully close to becoming the person who literally cut off my nose to spite my face, but you know what? Sometimes the face had it coming.
As I was processing through the various realities of my existence, thinking back on the reasons that probably got me here, I started poking around on the interwebs, curious what normal people do when they want to get back on speaking terms with their skinny jeans. We have discussed the dangers of internet rabbit holes, no? Well, one such hole took me to a page on something called Intuitive Eating and you might say I ate it up (too early in the day for this pun?), because it was hilarious.
The thing is, you might say that you aren’t much for studying theology. If you say that, what you probably mean is that you don’t gravitate towards dusty tomes on transubstantiation (you’re missing out) and that you pride yourself on holding onto a simple faith, on the basics. All well and good. I don’t believe we are all called to the same thing, but be not mistaken — your theology works its way out your fingertips, whether you are intending to or not. And the theology behind Intuitive Eating belongs under glass in a museum.
I am not saying it is bad to listen to your body. Assuming none of you have pathological liars for bodies the way I do, that is probably downright advisable the majority of the time — eat when you are hungry, when you cease being hungry, stop, and so forth. But as I read on, it became clear that the underlying this theory of eating (do we not live in a golden age? We have the luxury of having theories about eating — it is not whether to eat, but which philosophy shall guide our abundant eating. It’s really something, when you think about it) depended on the assumption that we are naturally good, and discerning, and that all our food hangups and bad habits are the result of external influences, of diet culture and our obsession with our bodies.
And that much is true — we do listen to the wrong voices, we are way too obsessed with a false notion of perfection and our body image is regularly turned inside out and upside down (ok, you know what else is funny? I didn’t start this post intending to talk about dieting or body image. I was seriously just going to poke fun at this thing I read. Fascinating where things can go if your keyboard is tappy enough). But we don’t actually need to have magazines or social media to mess us up in this area. We do just fine, all by ourselves, because the underlying theology is crooked — peeling off the layers of societal influence, getting back to our natural rhythm for eating and viewing our bodies without the external lens will not get you a serene, Mona Lisa-esq outlook on food and self-worth. It will get you justifying baking a chocolate cake at 9 at night, which you will then proceed to eat straight from the pan. All those external influences don’t help — but then, we don’t really need help getting this wrong.
And it isn’t only food where we have this kink in our think. I am going to go out on a limb here and say that there is not a single good gift that God has given that we cannot twist into something ugly, self-destructive and idolatrous (cheerful post, eh? It ends well, I promise). We are nothing if not creative in our sin. Think about your home — have you bought into some form of “intuitive” homemaking? Are you prone to biting the heads off of children who leave the “natural” beauty of your home in a dizzying state of disarray (read: disaster zone)? Or do you justify laziness in your daily work, refusing to labor in the battle that God has called you to — the battle against the entropy of clutter, of dust, of attitudes?
Your theology is showing in your sink, in your laundry room, your marriage, your Bible reading habits. But here is the good news: Jesus Christ is making all things new. In Him, you are a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come. Even your intuition is getting remade. Do not lose heart — this work He is doing in your life, it is His work, and He never fails to finish what He starts. Seek to conform your instincts and your intuitions to those of your Savior, and when you mess it up and it all gets turned upside-down (not if — WHEN), then run, don’t walk to your Lord to pick you back up and set you back in the fight once again.