Musings From Italy
This past June, I went on a trip to Italy. It was incredible. Yet, I also learned some unexpected things about my life that have been a “motto” of my summer. Let’s dive in…
It’s no secret that when you are traveling, you are no longer in control of every food and schedule situation. That can be a scary thing for those of us that are trying to move out of a fear-based and rigid relationship with food.
In Rome, I was not in control of my every meal. There were lots of surprises and foods that sometimes can cause me anxiety. As I was praying one day, I felt God speak something so profound that has stuck with me still to this day.
HE SAID, “ALL THAT MATTERS TO ME IS IF YOU ARE EATING AND HAVING THE ENERGY TO SHARE MY NAME. IT DOESN’T MATTER WHETHER YOU ATE FAST FOOD OR FROM A FARM TO MARKET RESTAURANT…AS LONG AS YOU ARE FUELED WITH FOOD (ENERGY) SO THAT YOU CAN MAKE ME KNOWN, THEN I AM PLEASED.” WOW! THAT STRUCK ME!
During the week, I kept reminding myself of this truth. How, if Jesus were there with me, He wouldn’t be peaking over my plate and seeing how many calories I was eating or if it was low fat (da heck??). He would ask if I were fueled to go out and be His servant.
The meals were sometimes random and not always the iconic Italian experience. Often, they were just the most satisfying meal I could find at the time and place. It ranged from a classic Italian pizza to fast food to yogurt and cereal at the breakfast buffet.
The Bible shows us through His Son Jesus that He wants us to experience food without fear. I mean, Jesus Himself was judged by the world/society and called a glutton (Matthew 11:19, Luke 7:34). He put people and experiences before other aspects (commentary sources, Matthew 9:10-13, Mark 2:13-17, John 4:27). He didn’t fear gluten (hello loaves of bread and fish in Matthew 14, John 6, and Luke 9) and He didn’t hesitate to enjoy a meal with somebody who needed to hear His truth (tax collectors in verses above and Zacchaeus in Luke 19 etc).
After leaving Italy, this has been a very helpful reminder for me. That Jesus isn’t interested in how “healthy” society deems I am being. He is interested to know if I am prioritizing Him and His kingdom and putting Him first. He would rather have my brain be filled with thoughts of Him and how I can serve Him on this earth than how I can micromanage my food, get a workout in, or obey some “healthy” food rule.
Pause. Think about this. Those thoughts in your head telling you that you need to watch what you eat, eat less because you ate a lot recently, or save up for a big meal, or be watchful of your calories…where are those thoughts from?? Are they from truth? Are they from the Word of God? No. Then, they aren’t truth so don’t let them dictate your life.
I challenge you to think about where those thoughts, pressures, and fears around your body and food came from.
Remember when you were younger and you got picked on for the first time? Or called a name that was hurtful to you? Your mom or someone in your life probably reminded you of the truth, saying that that girl or boy doesn’t know what he/she’s talking about. Well, these convincing declarations of body and food (from magazines, celebs, Kardashians etc., people in your life) are just like those elementary school bullies. It may seem convincing, but it does NOT mean it’s true.
Jesus calls me to an ABUNDANT life of FREEDOM and SERVING (Joh 10:10). I don’t think micromanaging food and exercise is included in that.
I know for me personally, I felt a lot of Christians putting a lot of emphasis on “healthy eating” and using the verse that our body is a temple. Yet, that is so out of context (1 Timothy 4:8). There is an overvaluing of “health” in Christian culture and I think it needs to stop. Stop using Bible verses to infect fear in women (and men) over food choices. For example, Proverbs 31, the iconic passage for women that we hear in the church, does not have one mention of the woman’s physical appearance. Food and exercise has NOTHING to do with your relationship with God or your morality. It does not make you a better Christian (Mark 7:18-23). See more on this in my earlier post here. And here is a beautiful post written by a friend of mine.
As I walked the streets of cobblestone and breathed the air of freshly baked bread and cigarettes, I couldn’t help but be reminded of my purpose (read these verses if you need a reminder of what that is: 1 Peter 2:9, Colossians 1:16, Ephesians 2:10,Matthew 28:18-20). You might be familiar with the infamous Great Commission passage in Matthew 28: 18-20. It commands God’s people (who have accepted and believed in His Name and asked for forgiveness of their sins) to spread the name of Jesus and His truth to ALL people. There is no mention of physical health or pleasing of society. In fact, Jesus mentions that we should expect just the opposite (John 15:18-27).
All that to say, I encourage you to reflect on what thoughts are determining your mindset and choices. What is the source of those thoughts?
Remember, because of Jesus, we are called to "make disciples" (Matthew 28) and to bring Jesus glory! Our food and exercise is not important when you look at the big picture of why we are called here on earth!