I say ironic because, since last Sunday, I've been featuring Mary DeTurris Poust's latest book, Cravings: a Catholic Wrestles with Food, Self-Image, and God. The book--and my posts about it--have provided me the opportunity all week for several insightful and thought-provoking conversations with friends and readers.
Yet all week I have been "hungry" for all kinds of crazy things. Desserts that I never want. A second helping of something I barely enjoyed. Even a 7-11 hot dog was calling my name. I also found myself struggling and acting annoyed with situations and issues that normally don't faze me. To say I've been off all week is an understatement.
Cookie monster at bedtime
This morning, when it came time for the examination of conscience at Mass, our celebrant reminded us that Jesus asked us to give ourselves in love to three things: God, our neighbor, and ourselves. He also pointed out that, in his experience, most of the offenses for which we need to ask forgiveness are usually offenses against ourselves. I first winced when he said that, but still tried to imagine what he could mean by that statement.
So right there and there, I asked God to forgive me for the way I've been acting towards myself, and to show me what that means, exactly.
As I pondered this throughout the day, the first thing that became obvious, is that I have not been taking my regular quiet time in centering prayer. I have good enough reasons for not doing it for every day of the week, but it doesn't change the reality. Problem number one, check.
I also had to acknowledge how hard I've been on myself. All week my little Fred Flinstone devil figurine has been flying above my shoulder whispering words of contempt: Nothing I do is right. How could I mess that up. Here I go, wrong again. Basically, I screw up all over, every day, in every way possible--which is, in and of itself, impossible! Problem number two, check.
Which leads me to my "hunger" all week. I've been turning to food to fill me, to make me feel better, to stuff the hole I feel inside me. As Mary wisely asks in Cravings, the real question is: what am I hungry for?
"If we believe we are made by our Creator to be exactly who and what we are--nothing more, nothing less, nothing better, nothing worse--we can begin to let go of some of the shackles that bind us to false ideas of physical beauty and outward appearance. We can finally look inside and discover our true selves and the wellspring of love that is the Spirit of God within us...
When we do that, or even take the first baby steps in that direction, we find, almost without realizing it, that our need for other things, whether food or alcohol, shopping or obsessive cleaning, suddenly begins to lessen. The good feelings we tried to obtain through an extra slice of of pizza or a hot fudge sundae are now suddenly there for the taking. No spoon required. No calories to count."