What is hungry?

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Well…it was harder than I thought it would be. When I committed to eating 7 foods for the month of January, I thought maybe by the end of the month it would be really hard and I would start to really get sick of my seven foods. But it ended up being quite the opposite. When reality hit, the first few days were so hard. I made several discoveries….

First, I hate plain food. Hate it. I hardly ever eat food that has no sauce or seasoning in it. So although I had thought I could be creative and mix and match my 7 foods, at the end of the day……..I was still eating the same 7 foods. And they don’t taste very different when they are plain. I tried being creative with the way I cooked things, but ended up having some pretty bad stomach problems. Blaahhhh.

So after about a week and a half I got into a routine and ate the same thing for breakfast (eggs with rice mixed in), lunch (cold chicken, apples, and almonds), and dinner (chicken, rice, and tomato bowl with a side of green beans). This worked for me because by the time I got to dinner each night, it had been 24 hours since I’d eaten tomatoes so I was excited about tomatoes again….that is, as excited as you can be when you’re eating the same 7 foods for a month.

I experienced something those first few days that came as a shock to me. I had never only viewed eating as a way to be satisfied, not to be entertained. Truly, I was never excited about what I was eating, but rather I ate because I was hungry. I texted the council at that point and asked

Me: Do you think children who are starving even have taste preferences? Like do they even like or dislike foods? Or are they just hungry?

Lindsay: I think they’re just hungry.

That’s so sad. I’ve never experienced eating for this purpose only. And yet, there are children all over the world who experience this every day of their lives, and may not even get to satisfy their hunger the way I did every day. And here I am, I get to see food as a form of entertainment for my taste buds. I didn’t realize how many times a day I get to make a choice. I am able to choose what I want an incredibly large number of times a day, simply in the food choices I make. And I don’t notice it. Until I give up that “right” or should I say, privilege.

I had borrowed the Hunger Games movies from a friend and frequently watched them the past couple months. I think they’re ingenious. It’s a futuristic movie where 12 districts of people are starving, and then there’s the Capital, which houses wealthy people who have outrageous luxuries. The districts apart from the capital have to send two tributes from their district to an “arena” to fight to the death while the world, and especially the people from the Capital, watch on television. Sort of like Gladiator meets reality TV game shows.

As my roommate and I were watching one day, we got to a scene where the two tributes from one of the poorest districts are forced to go to a party at the Capital. They meet people from the Capital who offer them tons and tons of food and drink. At one point the tribute says “I couldn’t eat another bite.” To which a Capital resident hands him a drink and says it will make him throw up so he can go on eating. He later says to the other tribute, “People are starving in 12 and here they’re just throwing it up to fit more in.” My roommate looks and me and said something profound…

“Do you think that’s how the rest of the world views the United States?”

Wow. I couldn’t argue with her. I don’t know how other countries view us, but I wouldn’t doubt that we seem that way. When I watch The Hunger Games I am so judgmental of the people from the Capital. Then I dump out water on a daily basis because I poured too much in my cup, while there are communities dying because they don’t have fresh water. I throw away food because I’m full or don’t like the way something turned out, and there are children eating scraps out of dumpsters they’re so hungry.

And it’s not just in other countries…it’s here too. In my country, in my neighborhood. This month I was reminded of a commercial I saw years ago that broke my heart. It showed a mom taking a bunch of ketchup packets from a fast food restaurant, and then putting it all in a pot, adding water, and cooking it over the stove to make tomato soup. When she tried to feed it to her kids, they were so sad and didn’t like it…but they was all she had to give them.

And I struggled to be thankful and satisfied with seven foods to eat each day. Extremely humbling.

And then there’s the other aspect….it’s so easy to feel convicted about something, create this extravagant plan, post it on your blog, and get ready to start these big commitments….then you begin……..and then it gets hard. Really hard. And everyone around you is eating catered Piada for your teacher in-service, or cupcakes for helping your friend move, or you walk into someone’s house that smells like garlic and roasted onions…..and all you want to do is throw away your almonds and apples and eat a big piece of lasagna.

I was definitely reminded of how hard it can be to stick to a commitment. I can feel very convicted about something, but then when it comes down to actually doing it, it’s hard. When it comes to denying myself of the “rights” I think I have or deserve, it’s challenging.

It’s extremely hard to break away from a life of entitlement.

I thank God for awesome friends who cook seven foods for me and find creative things like rice cakes, and dried green beans and gift to me. I thank God for encouraging texts from my council of girls, and for an understanding family who let me eat at home instead of spending time with them at a restaurant watching them eat food I’m not allowed to have.

And most of all, I’m thankful for grace. God gives me so much grace as I struggle with feelings of entitlement on a moment by moment basis.

Lord, continue to open my eyes to see life in all its reality. Empty me of my selfishness and pride. Make me aware of how many millions of moments I should be walking in thankfulness. And grant me opportunities to be generous with the bounty you’ve given me.

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One response »

  1. Our kids in Uganda eat this vile pasty porridge called posho – corn meal paste with water, sometimes a bit of milk. Every morning. It keeps them alive. it is not tasty ( far from it – to our spoiled american palate) it is not covered with brown sugar & fruits & nuts. It is not even healthy per se – simply a starchy paste. But they are so thankful. It is often their only meal of the day. Every day. For years & years & years. And MANY (dare I say MOST??) are not that fortunate – they are truly malnourished, many die – DIE for lack of food. And I just spend $48 for 2 mediocre lunches at a fancy restaurant. We have so much to learn and this was a great step as a young person Linds – once you KNOW these things you can’t go about living like the Haves in the capital knowing the 12s are starving.

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