By Julie Steele
Whenever I say a blessing at meals, I thank God for our food and family and often add “and please watch over those who are not so blessed.” A lot of children go hungry in our neck of the woods. There are a lot of lonely souls too. I’ve seen what the lack of food and companionship can do to the body AND the spirit.
Verses are sprinkled through the Bible about feeding the hungry. Solving the hunger problem is that important and basic. It’s hard to do anything good in your life when the sides of your stomach are touching or your children are crying for something, anything to eat. Look at the Gospel of Matthew, “I was hungry…” is the first thing mentioned on the famous list of what we are to do for others. (Chapter 25:35). My husband and I made the decision years ago to contributing to food ministry charities first and foremost for scriptural reasons as well as knowing our money would give “more bang for the buck” when it came to making lives better.
My personal relationship with food and how my faith plays into it is much more complicated. I grew up using food or lack of food as a way to deal with my troubles. I used junk food as a way to feel better about situations. I couldn’t talk to about my life, much less my troubles. I didn’t trust God enough to pray. It was so much easier to eat a bag of M&Ms. I am talking the pounder bag here. Sugar high! Or I would deprive myself of food as punishment for my lack of control. Starvation low! Talk about a seesaw of pain.
Over time, I developed allergies to corn and wheat. What a blessing in disguise. Banning junk that could threaten my life made me realize how dependent I was on comfort food. I didn’t know what a high could be produced by highly processed, sugared, chemically loaded food – until I had to give it up. Talk about misery. Withdrawal symptoms made me cranky. Real life problems still happened. What was there left to do?
I thought about those people I know in recovery programs and set about doing my own sort of 12-Step program, relying on God and prayer to get me to a healthier place and help me deal with life in a healthier way. I worked out in nature, constantly reminded about God’s creation. I appreciated fruits and veggies in their natural state. I prayed when I was tempted to backslide (still do!). I saw results and thank God daily for the help.
Now I have grandchildren. My daughter-in-law does an excellent job of feeding them in a healthy way. Sugar and refined carbs are a treat, not an everyday thing. I thank God for giving my grandbabies such a wise mama. Our bodies are created by God. Sometimes we forget that. I know I did. But grandbabies reminded me in a very profound way. Pesticides, preservatives and other things don’t belong in those cute little bodies that are already perfect. And we all started out as those perfect-created-by-God babies!
In a strange way, thinking about healthy food led me back to thinking about others. I started going to our local farmers market. I ran into a retired minister friend who had taken over the family land and turned it into an organic farm. I learned about what it takes to grow organic and the faith it takes to make a go of a new venture. I started tithing my farmers’ market purchases so food bank clients would have fresh produce rather than just canned goods.
From other friends, I learned about the damage pesticides do to the people who work in the fields, the lack of fair trade and labor being taken advantage of. I was back to those scriptures about helping those who are poor and downtrodden.
These days I really look at what I eat, where it comes from, and how my purchases and donations affect the greater good in the world from a faith, as much as health, viewpoint. I do better some days than others but I pray I will continue to make the world a better place for all. It’s what we are called to do.
As a former pastor, Christian educator and non-profit staffer, with degrees in microbiology and Divinity/Christian Ed, Julie Hilton Steele developed a keen interest in social justice and personal spirituality issues, often the focus of her published non-fiction devotional articles. As an unpublished writer of medical historical romance, she now enjoy pondering the intersections of faith and the world’s challenges through her fictional characters and their stories set in WWII era Washington DC. She only sits still long enough to research, write or make custom cards. Otherwise, this hiker, eclectic reader and lover of all things Benedictine and in nature is off on her next adventure.
Julie is a member of the team blog Yankee-Belle Cafe.
If you’re a Christian and believe it impacts how you view food, I’d love to hear from you! Would you like to guest post?