Ryan and I just finished 28 Days of clean eating. Ryan lost 16 pounds, I lost 4. But I was more interested in how much inflammation and bloating I could lose.
In spite of all that I learned, there was something so much deeper in all of it. It turns out it’s not just about disciplining yourself to saying no to the bad food and yes to the good.
I learned that in my life, I’m either being controlled by a true hunger … Or by cravings.
Cravings are sneaky little liars. They tell us that if we will just indulge, we will feel so much better. And if we just cave to them, our craving will be satisfied and will leave us alone.
(Except, they never do leave us alone, do they?)
Cravings are so accessible. If you feel the slightest hunger pain, or are bored, or are stressed/sad/emotional … They are right around every corner calling to you. Panera, Starbucks, McDonalds, Chick-Fil-A (ok, I’ll admit … I WISH a Chick-Fil-A were right around the corner) … All so ready for your indulgence.
Cravings leave you sabatoged. You go from one to another for years until you look back and see that your body doesn’t look like what you want it to. It doesn’t fit into the wardrobe you spent a mini fortune on. It gets sick, and tired, and just wants to rest all the time.
Cravings are horribly addictive. You want coffee, so you grab a hazelnut mocha with extra whip. And then your brain acts like you just fed it crack, and wants some more. The more you have, the more you need it to get through the day/wake up/fold the laundry/sit by the pool/take your kids to the park/read a good book/have a conversation with a friend/take a nap. (I mean, is there really any function that could not be made better with a delicious cup of joe?)
And yet …
True hunger, the way God made it before we fed our bodies all this crap … True hunger is very different.
True hunger is looking for building blocks of life. It wants the healthy fats, and protein, and complex carbs, and fiber, and vitamins, and phytonutrients.
True hunger is God-given to make sure our bodies function. Thrive even.
True hunger is often not easily satisfied like cravings are. When you offer true hunger a donut, it knows that there is something it wants more than a quick spike in blood sugar. And when true hunger is met … When you push your body to climb a mountain, and then you feed your worn out self a full, savory, delicious meal… Ahhh. Life is good.
True hunger leads you to fulfillment. Your body acts and looks like it is supposed to.
True hunger is also addictive. But in a good way. When you realize how good your body was designed to feel … You just keep wanting more of the good stuff.
Now …. before you think I’m preaching a mini sermon on nutrition (I did, by the way, take two semesters of hermeneutics in Bible College) … Or maybe before you hit up Starbucks to see if extra whip is even a “thing” … You should know this is all really about my life and your life. Not just about food.
You and me? Either we are going about our days chasing our cravings.
Or we’re seeking to fulfill that for which we truly hunger.
Life cravings, like bad food, are all around. It’s as though we are walking through a pinball machine, and lights are blinking everywhere, our ball is pinging from one thing to the next, and bells and buzzers create a cacophony of chaos. (Ok. I just have to point out that I’m pretty proud of that little alitteration. Second-grade writing — you have paid off.)
We are so dizzy going from one distraction to another we forget that there is something MORE.
Cravings look like watching TV all night to space out of real life. Like staying in our comfort zone, instead of stretching outside of it. Cravings tell us to procrastinate on anything that might cause discomfort, or make waves. “You deserve to feel good NOW,” they say. “Discipline yourself later.”
I don’t know about you, but I crave distraction (hello FB newsfeed!), time to zone out, excuses to not clean my house, or pursue my business, or write that proposal. I crave attention from others (yes, I was a middle child) when it would be better to spend time with God. (Oh. And I crave coffee. And pastries. Especially coffee and pastries together.)
And of course the problem with all this is that the more I procrastinate, the more I distract myself, the more I zone out … The more I NEED these things to cope when life’s little demands pop up.
When we go from craving to craving, distraction to distraction, our life just kinda happens. We bounce along in that life-sized pinball machine until we had no idea what it was that we want anymore.
So we stay in that job, is stay in that rut, or stay in an unhealthy relationship because it has become our comfort zone.
Real hunger. Oh. Real hunger is so amazingly different.
Just like God designed us to hunger after food that would cause us to thrive, God has designed a life hunger in each of us. None of our hungers are identical. But they are all intentionally placed there by God. And we are meant to thrive in His purpose.
We each have a purpose, or a calling. Something that tugs on our heart, that tells us “if I had enough time/money/confidence, THIS is who I would become or what I would do.”
Hunger yearns to be fed with the stuff that will nourish our soul. That will make us thrive. The stuff that creates the building blocks of an amazing life.
True hunger is not easily satisfied by all the bling-blinging that surrounds us each day. When you are living intentionally in your calling, it demands that you give it your attention. And until you do, things like watching reality shows on TV, or taking a nap, or procrastinating until next (fill-in-the-blank), don’t really satisfy. They come up short. Or maybe, they lose their appeal altogether.
Living life by hunger means living life intentionally. It means saying adios to comfort zones, and pointless distractions, and just getting by.
It calls to us that there is more. We are made for more.
And years later, after we have lived out our days with purpose and focus, we realize that we are exactly where we are meant to be.
I hope, dear friends, that you each know your life’s hunger … Your purpose.
Many of us on this blog know all-too-well what it is to hunger for something (or someone), we can’t have.
But God is not done with us. He can take even the longings that remain unfulfilled and use them for our good and His glory.
So I really want to encourage you to spend some time with God this week. Ask Him to reveal your hunger, and to equip you to achieve it.
What do you crave? And what is it that makes you so hungry for life?
If cravings lead to regret, and true hunger leads to fulfillment … Which path are you on?