Fighting the Constant Hunger

by | May 16, 2013 | Woman

Years ago, when I worked at a church in Grand Rapids, I drove in early on Sunday mornings, when 28th Street was still silent and gray, as the pale morning sun rose over the pawn shops and used-car dealerships. I worked all morning, talking with people, holding a thousand tiny details in my mind, and when I left in the afternoon, head spinning and feet tired, I always hoped I was in the car in time to hear The Splendid Table on NPR.

It was a good day if I made it to the car in time for it and a bad day if I missed it and turned on the radio only to hear A Prairie Home Companion instead, because it meant I’d stayed longer than I’d intended and because, to be honest, I really don’t like A Prairie Home Companion.

Lynne Rossetto Kasper, the host of The Splendid Table, says there are two kinds of people in the world: people who wake up thinking about what to have for supper and people who don’t. I am in the first camp, certainly. But it took me about 20 years to say that out loud.

I’ve always been hungry. Always. I remember being hungry as a small child, as an adolescent girl, as an adult, and just after I locate those feelings and memories of hunger, in my peripheral vision another thing buzzes up, like a flash of heat or pain: shame. Hunger, then shame. Hunger, then shame. Always hungry, always ashamed. 

I have always been on the round side of average, sometimes the very round side and sometimes just a little round. I was a round-faced, chubby baby, a little girl with soft, puffy cheeks, a teenager who longed to be skinny and never was, who routinely threw all her pants on the floor and glared at them like enemies.

A woman who still longs to be skinny and never is, and who still, from time to time, throws all her pants on the floor and glares at them like enemies. After all these years, the heaviest thing isn’t the number on the scale but the weight of the shame I’ve carried all these years — too big, too big, too big.

I’ve always wanted to be thinner, and I’ve always loved to eat, and I felt betrayed by my appetites.

Why couldn’t I be one of those people who forgets to eat? Or who can’t eat a bite when she’s stressed or sad? When I’m stressed or sad, I eat like a truffle pig, hoping that great mouthfuls of food will make me feel tethered to something, grounded, safe. And I eat when I’m happy too—when the table is full of people I love, when we’re celebrating.

My appetite is strong, powerful, precise, but for years and years, I tried to pretend I couldn’t hear it screaming in my ears. It wasn’t ladylike. It wasn’t proper. So I pretended I wasn’t hungry, pretended I’d already eaten, murmured something about not caring one way or the other, because I was afraid that my appetites would get the best of me, that they would expose my wild and powerful hunger.

I learned something about hunger from my friend Sara. Sara was one of the first women I knew who ate like a man. When she was hungry, she announced it. And then she ate. A lot. We were traveling through Europe together in college, when I was in the throes of a deep and desperate hatred toward my body. I watched Sara with confusion and fascination, the way a child watches an animal he’s never seen—wide-eyed and kind of nervous. If Sara was hungry while we were on our way to a play, she’d ask us to stop. Because she was hungry. All of us stopped because she was hungry. I would have sooner lost consciousness on the sidewalk than draw attention to my hunger and, therefore, my body.

I realized that even most of the thin women I knew had learned to demur about food and hunger—I already ate; I couldn’t possibly; I’m absolutely stuffed. But Sara loved to eat and believed it was her right, and a pleasure. She didn’t overeat or undereat, cry or hide food. She just ate, for sustenance and enjoyment both, and I was fascinated. Still, it took almost a decade more for me to say those words—those words, “I’m hungry”—without feeling ashamed.

It took becoming pregnant to finally say to the world, out loud and without embarrassment, “I’m hungry.” My first pregnancy shifted so many aspects of my understanding of my body and, with it, shifted my view of hunger. Even if at 29 years old I couldn’t claim my own hunger without experiencing a shiver of shame, I could claim hunger on behalf of my baby, and that small step might as well have been a mile for all it unlocked inside me.

Several years later, I’m learning to practice gratitude for a healthy body, even if it’s rounder than I’d like it to be. I’m learning to take up all the space I need, literally and figuratively, even though we live in a world that wants women to be tiny and quiet. To feed one’s body, to admit one’s hunger, to look one’s appetite straight in the eye without fear or shame—this is controversial work in our culture.

Part of being a Christian means practicing grace in all sorts of big and small and daily ways, and my body gives me the opportunity to demonstrate grace, to make peace with imperfection every time I see myself in the mirror. On my best days, I practice grace and patience with myself, knowing that I can’t extend grace and patience if I haven’t tasted it.

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

How the Holy Spirit Can Restore Your True Sanity

How the Holy Spirit Can Restore Your True Sanity

Most of my life I tried to avoid one thing—being crazy or insane. When I was growing up my mother had emotional issues and saw a psychiatrist regularly. She was on medication which only seemed to make her mood swings worse. She had high highs, and low lows. When I...

Israel Prophecy: The Enemy is Stirring an Unimaginable Conflict

Israel Prophecy: The Enemy is Stirring an Unimaginable Conflict

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJFFqAgykmU A cease-fire between Israel and Palestinian militants took effect late Sunday in a bid to end nearly three days of violence that killed dozens of Palestinians and disrupted the lives of hundreds of thousands of Israelis,...

Why Partial Obedience to God is Disobedience

Why Partial Obedience to God is Disobedience

My husband had a saying for our children growing up. “Partial obedience is disobedience.” He wanted them to understand that doing half the plan would not get them the full reward. Another reminder we used to tell our kids was, “Don’t think about it, don’t hesitate,...

Kingdom Economics: Why is America Declining Spiritually So Quickly?

Kingdom Economics: Why is America Declining Spiritually So Quickly?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released a surprisingly strong July Employment Report.  Total nonfarm employment was 528K (398K previously, 250K expected).  Private nonfarm employment was 471K (404K previously, 230K expected). The headline unemployment rate dropped to...

Can You Discern Spiritual Wind?

Can You Discern Spiritual Wind?

The wind is a funny thing. We do not know where it comes from nor where it goes. We cannot see it, but we can see and feel its effects. Wind can be gentle and refreshing, cold or hot, strong, and dangerous, and everything in between. When the wind blows, we must...

Messianic Rabbi: He That Has an Eye, Let Him Hear

Messianic Rabbi: He That Has an Eye, Let Him Hear

It is interesting that, as a Messianic rabbi the question I am asked most often by Christians is if I believe that they as Christians have to celebrate, or observe, the biblical Holy Days. They are usually asking about those days listed in Leviticus 23: Shabbat, Yom...

How the Holy Spirit Is Preparing America

How the Holy Spirit Is Preparing America

As the crackdown against Christianity in America grows, it is a cycle believers have seen before. While no one celebrates their religious freedom coming under attack, God has used this persecution to great effect throughout history. Over the centuries, there have been...

RECENT ARTICLES

Dealing Effectively with the Dynamics of Change

Change can be challenging. Some people look forward to change and embrace it. Some people dread change and try to avoid it. Since change is inevitable, so here are some of the dynamics surrounding...
God’s Holy Interruption Is Coming Soon

God’s Holy Interruption Is Coming Soon

This past weekend I preached at The Roads Church, a charismatic congregation located in the tiny town of Norris City, Illinois. Located amid cornfields, the population is only 1,325, but almost that many people visit the church on weekends. They come from all over...

The Biblical Way to Rise Above Mediocre Expectations

The Biblical Way to Rise Above Mediocre Expectations

We spend a lot of life figuring out if we “measure up,” a phrase someone coined in the mid-1800s. Even in childhood, we begin comparing ourselves with siblings and kids at school, and it never seems to stop. The problem goes back to Cain and Abel, doesn’t it? Most of...

A Better Way to Witness to Others for Christ

A Better Way to Witness to Others for Christ

”Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” (Rom. 2:4). Looking retrospectively at my past as an atheist, I can see where God...

Why Does God Want Us to Speak with Tongues?

Why Does God Want Us to Speak with Tongues?

Why speak with tongues? There are many reasons for speaking in a spiritual language. Primarily, though, the Scriptures require it. The apostle Paul commanded us, saying, “Pray in the Spirit always” (Eph. 6:18). Jude commanded it in verse 20, saying, “Pray in the Holy...

Pin It on Pinterest

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]