Restoring Eden One Bite at a Time

By JMathis

My mom is one of those old-time ethnic mothers who is obsessed with keeping you uncomfortably fed and full. My guess is that since she grew up poor, food was scarce and something to be hoarded, particularly when there were eight children to feed.

She harasses you until you are stuffed, and forces you to eat everything that is put on your plate. At the same time, she also expects that you should just be able to magically metabolize all of this food, and remain svelte and lean while eating (like) a horse.

Of course, this duality just never worked for me, and I have been a yo-yo dieter since elementary school. I remember my mom sending me mixed messages by restricting my intake as early as 5 years old and putting me on the cabbage soup diet when I was just 7 years old. However, whenever the slightest bit of progress was made, she was back to the idea that I needed to inhale everything she put on my plate. After all, she was a terrific cook, and she beamed with pride whenever her family ate every morsel that she presented in front of them.

As a result of this eating schizophrenia, I have been battling the pudge my entire life, which opened the door to a host of eating disorders. Between my college years and until about age thirty, I was a pretty “successful” anorexic. Most of my twenties were spent tricking my body into staying thin—on the surface, at least, it looked like I had everything under control.

By my thirties, however, and particularly after having a baby, my body just stopped cooperating with these parlor games. No matter what shortcuts I used to lose weight, my body rebelled even more, and stubbornly held onto every calorie ingested. My cool, calm exterior began to unravel, as all of my food frustrations started bubbling to the surface. I couldn’t understand why the methods I was so good at for years, were suddenly failing miserably.

This internal war escalated until last year when I finally made peace with myself. I prayerfully came to the realization that I had been living a selfish and self-centered life. My youth had been wasted fastidiously counting calories, while I ignored my Creator and the purposes for which He created me. How could I put the Lord first when the bulk of my day was spent stressing about every little bite I put into my mouth? How could I properly focus on those around me in need when I was too obsessed with my own appearance?

Perhaps you are allowing your body image to be defined by voices at home, in your social circle or by the media. In whichever case, it is time for those voices to give way to the voice of the Holy Spirit.

As we all know, listening for the voice of the Lord is a daily process, and by no means a quick-fix. I can attest to the fact that your eating choices may not change overnight, and it may be difficult to attain balance after years of body-abuse, self-loathing and emotional eating.

Regardless, it is about yielding to His Voice, and being patient with His transformation of your body and your mind. It is about His thoughts dominating your thoughts, and His ways overcoming your ways. It is about learning and re-learning how to lead the lifestyle of the Holy Spirit and not of the world.

Contrary to what Jersey Shore says, it is not about GTL: Gym, Tan, Laundry. It’s about seeking the Kingdom of God first, and letting His Voice speak to you throughout your day, so that you are victorious over your struggles and your temptations.

Make peace with yourself today. Make peace with your body today. Make peace with your Creator today.

As part of our 31 Day Mind-Body-Spirit Challenge, put away the shortcuts, put away your impatience, put away your emotional baggage.

Trust that He is restoring Eden into your life…one bite at a time.

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33

Sex and The City

Go to fullsize imageBy Bindu Adai-Mathew

We almost managed to do it…Almost. Sorry, ladies…some of you are about to get uncomfortable. But did anyone think what I was thinking? How can we go an entire  whole month on talking about boys without talking about the one subject that is synonymous with boys…SEX!

Well, actually that’s not entirely true…JMathis alluded to sex in Gotta Love Those Pesky Boundaries blog and AbbyA discussed it in My 10 Cents on Sex Addiction: No Shame or Guilt Included.

But if I am to believe what someone told me recently—that men think about sex 80% of the time—then we have to talk about sex. Again.

And not just men’s issues with sex. But ours.

So what do you think about sex?  If you’re like me, depending on whom is around when the topic comes up, I may internally blush, wring my hands for a few seconds, and then try to act non-chalant. But if I’m around a close girlfriend or two, I may perk up and delve into the topic most comfortably.

Growing up in a conservative, Indian family, I was raised to not even think about boys, much less sex. Couple that with being raised in a Southern Baptist church where dancing, drinking, and sex were all equally taboo and you have a recipe for a naïve prude. And in hindsight, I was naïve in many ways, and in some ways, I was probably also a prude.

Fast-forward through high school to a couple of years after college, and Sex and the City (SATC) was the show to watch. I, along with many women, enjoyed watching every aspect of the topic of boys and sex being dissected and discussed to the umpteenth degree. I thought of watching the show as a guilty pleasure, a fun escape, but as I watched, I also took it with a grain of salt…kind of like watching one of those stunt/daredevil shows with a strong “do not try this at home” disclaimer at the end.

As much fun as the show was to watch, I didn’t take it seriously. After all, no one really lived their lives like that…right?! At least not respectable girls, right?! And definitely not Christian girls, right?! (Okay, don’t choke! In case you couldn’t tell, I was being sarcastic—although many years ago, I was naïve enough to believe the first question I just posed.)

Fast-forward a few more years, and it’s the first season of The Bachelor. At the very end of the first series, it comes down to the final two women and the Bachelor. On each of his last two dates, he and his date are given a key to a private hotel suite, where they can continue to get to know each other.  As I watched this, I remember feeling shocked! I had to double-check that this was not HBO, but primetime local tv! And then as I watched as each woman accepted the offer to spend the night with the bachelor, I was truly aghast! How could either one accept, knowing that he would also be sharing a room later on with his other date? Or were they even more naïve than me to think they were the only one?

Fast-forward a few more years, and now you have shows like Jersey Shore that have taken that sexual freedom and lack of discretion up another few notches.

But whether I’m watching television or just observing the world around me, I can’t help but wonder (in true Carrie Bradshaw-style) was SATC, the Bachelor, and all these shows influencing American culture or was it just a reflection of it? And while everyone seems to think we are “evolving” in our thinking towards sex, aren’t we just really devolving into our baser animal instincts where we separate the emotional and spiritual aspects of sex from the actual physical coupling?

It isn’t much later that I get one of my answers when a co-worker confesses to me that  how much that show influenced her decisions regarding relationships and sex. It was a great show, she told me, but she just wishes she didn’t look at it as a guidebook on dating.

For all her sexual freedom, she didn’t feel so free…in fact, she admits, she ended up being enslaved to some of her relationships and felt trapped for many years.

So what should our attitude towards sex be?

For these answers, I go to the source himself. The creator of sex. God.

Are you cringing right now? People often cringe when the Bible is brought up in relation to sex. They often think of the Bible as being anti-sex. But the opposite is true. God and the Bible are very pro-sex.

Don’t believe me? In fact, there is a whole book in the Bible devoted to sex: Song of Songs! Go read it! It celebrates sex…within the context of marriage.

Ah yes. I said it. Sex belongs within the boundaries of marriage. Yes, call me old fashioned. Call me narrow-minded. Call me close-minded. But yes, I believe that’s where sex belongs. It’s also where the Bible says it belongs. And for good reason.

Disease. Unwanted pregnancy. Undue emotional baggage.

Sex comes with a price. The world will tell you that it’s fun, that it’s really no big deal, that there are no strings attached, and that everyone is doing it. But the Bible will tell you the opposite. The physical act is a spiritual bond you share with a person. And we all personally know someone who as a result of having casual sex, ended up with an STD, and/or an unwanted pregnancy.

Whatever your views on sex, I encourage you…don’t listen to the world…don’t even listen to me….open up your Bible and see what the Manufacturer’s Manual has to say about it. After all, YOU deserve the best…why settle for eating at Taco Bell every day when God would rather you experience a gourmet meal?

 Two Become One

“…The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body…Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said ‘the two will become one flesh’ …” [I Corinthians 6:13-16]

God Designed Sex for Marriage

“The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” [I Corinthians 7:3-5]

 “But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” [I Corinthians 7:9]

“May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer – may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love. Why be captivated, my son by an adulteress? Why embrace the bosom of another man’s wife?” [Proverbs 5:18-20]

“Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer – may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love. Why be captivated, my son, by an adulteress? Why embrace the bosom of another man’s wife?For a man’s ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all his paths. The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly.” [Proverbs 5:15-23]

As always, God only wants what is best for us…He created our bodies, and he knows how they should work. Sex can be a momentary pleasure but the consequences can last a lifetime. Whatever your views on sex are, don’t let the world determine how you feel about sex. It’s YOUR body. You decide. I just encourage you to consult the being who created it.