concerning self-deception

I was hungry yesterday. No, actually, I was HANGRY.

Every day this week, I’ve had stomach rumblings around 3pm, that wide gulf of lethargic afternoon between the small lunch portion and the small dinner portion. I filled the gaps on Monday and Tuesday with snacks I found in my pantry – peanuts and dried fruit, the last slice of the banana bread I made. But yesterday, I’d finished off the bread and fruit and snuck peanuts for a morning snack already, and was determined to stick it out.

And you guys, I was such a crab. Fran and I had gone for a long hike in the morning (well, as long a hike as a 7lb chihuahua can endure – she conks out between 3 and 4 miles), and my body was craving calories and protein.

The squash soup and apple I ate for lunch were delicious, but they were lacking in protein. I desperately wanted a cheeseburger. I seriously considered jettisoning the entire endeavor, getting in my car and driving to the nearest fast food establishment to satiate myself.

Instead, I groused, I grumbled, I snarked about it on Facebook. I ate my dinner of lentil curry at 5pm on the dot in order to staunch the cravings. It worked, sort of. I still went to bed early, cranky and hungry.

I was hungry, yes. But I suspect that the hanger – the annoyance, anger and snark – had more to do with my previously unlimited food choices being so sharply curtailed.

In my life, when I want something to eat – a cheeseburger, a pizza, a salad full of berries and goat cheese – I simply get in my car, drive to a place that sells it, give them some money, and I get what I want. Sometimes, I sit on my couch in my pajamas, click a couple keys on my computer and whatever it is I want shows up at my doorstep, like magic.

Not being able to get what I wanted when I wanted it made me really, really cranky.

I am super uncomfortable with this reality.

My image of myself is pretty low-maintenance. I am a simple-living Brethren clergy person, an alumnus of Brethren Volunteer Service who lived in a community house, ate on $3/day and shared a single van with eight other volunteers for transportation! I have the chops! I have the simple-living cred! I know how to do all of this already!

Except, of course, having the cred and the chops is not the same as living it day in and day out. I’m starting a sermon series on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, which is where the Son of God himself says that the phonies who pretend to follow him but never actually DO the things he teaches will be denied entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven, cast aside as he declares “I never knew you! Go away from me, you evil ones!” That section, in Matthew 7, wins the subheading of ‘Concerning Self-Deception.’

And, ugh. Self-deception suuuuuuucks, you guys. I assumed that I had the resources – both recipe-wise and chutzpah-wise to take on this challenge with no problems. I knew the budget was small and that I’d probably feel hungry a bit, but I figured that I could hit up my network of simple-living friends for good recipes and pray a little more to get through a few moments of discomfort. Turns out, being denied my every wish and whim is a little harder to stomach than I thought.

It really isn’t the food that’s hard. What I’m eating is nourishing, tasty, and probably exponentially healthier than my usual diet. There’s no meat, but I could easily see ways to insert more protein and even begin – once I started stocking my freezer with leftovers – to afford some frozen chicken to supplement the beans and lentils.

What’s hard is the butt-kicking realization that I operate each and every day with the assumption that I can get whatever I want, that my desires can and should be immediately satisfied, that I am entitled to eat and drink all manner of luxurious, earth-abusing, wallet-thieving, neighbor-ignoring, body-denying things JUST BECAUSE I WANT TO.

Well.

That’s not okay.

What I eat affects my body, yes, but also my neighbors and my planet. I’ll be making a sizable donation to the CROP walk at the end of this week – the balance of what I usually spend on food and the tally of all the times I’ve cheated on the challenge over the course of this week. Eating the way I do is, in effect, hoarding my resources. It is selfish. It is like building a bigger barn (Luke 12!) with my own flesh.

So. When the challenge is over, I’m totally eating a cheeseburger. But then, I’m also going to pay some serious attention to the ways I spend and eat. And I’m going to inspect my charitable giving and see what can happen there, too.

Because I do not want to continue living in such a self-deceived way. I don’t want to be such a slave to my own desires.

 

SNAPchallenge: where we eat only from bowls

winning the oatmeal game with pb&banana // still working the vat of squash soup // spicy lentil curry & a bonus quesadilla

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