The Bagel

I drove from the Records department in the Astrodome area only to learn that my son was born in Galveston County, not in Harris County. I called my husband to tell him I would need to drive back past our home and on to Texas City to get the necessary birth certificate for our trip. I said, “I might need to go to Starbucks to get a latte after this stress. There was a time I would go to the bar and now I go to Starbucks.” I laughed at my jocularity and got on the freeway. In this town, we drive for an hour to get somewhere and it does not phase us.  A bagel and cream cheese sat on the car console. I packed it because as a pregnant woman, ravenous hunger, the kind that demands attention immediately, can strike at any moment. I picked up the bagel. Holy Spirit said, “Are you hungry?” I checked in with myself. No, I wasn’t hungry. I took a tiny bite and put it down. I drove along and eyed the bagel. I didn’t see a Starbucks. Oh, there’s one! But I would have to exit the freeway and make a U-turn. Too much effort.  The bagel looked at me. I looked at it. I was not hungry but ate the whole thing except a tiny piece which symbolically represented that I did not eat the whole thing, which I later picked up and ate.

I thought back to times in my life when I did the same thing. I did not deal with the emotion straight on. I chose instead to stuff it with something else. In the realm of debt, this is called deferment. I put off paying my school loans for years because I didn’t want to deal with it. Meanwhile, of course, my interest stacked up and I went from the amount of my original loan to a loan that will still exist when I’m 60 years old. That’s the nature of  deferment: putting something unpleasant off because it is difficult to face and stomach.

I used to go to used bookstores to seek out and buy stacks of books. Sometimes I read them, sometimes I did not. With the Internet I found them even more cheaply and could buy more without even leaving my home. Usually the urge to buy came with stress. Sometimes with my limited resources I chose to buy books over food.

There was not always a one to one correlation to the stress events and buying urges. It seems there were stressful eras that made me act out in certain ways. For instance when my father died when I was 14 a stressful era unwound over a 15 year period until I could face the sublimated pain responsibly. I chose all kinds of emotional stuffing exercises which resulted in angry outbursts, lower performance at school and an interest in the wrong crowd. The long-term experience was like a lasagna: I layered on my pain and wounding in various ways over time. It was no longer only my father’s death I had to deal with: it was everything else piled on top of it.

So, back to the bagel. I ate that delectably delicious bagel not because I was hungry, but because of the stress of procuring my son’s birth certificate. The bagel helped me deal with nervousness. It’s a wonderful dance: me and the bagel. The movement in the mouth. The transformation of simple carbohydrates into sugar. The pleasurable fullness in the tummy makes me feel like Poo Bear, Oh the honey in the tummy! And that bear would eat and eat until he got stuck in Rabbit’s door.

I did not know what hunger was, or was not, until I fasted. I quickly found during a fast I was hungry out of habit, not out of a real need for food. Over time I noticed two distinct voices: the voice of my biological tummy saying, “Hey, your body needs fuel” and a voice saying “Hey, why don’t you eat because you are used to it. Doesn’t that food look great?” And then another voice emerged: “Eat, eat, eat. Why deny yourself. You deserve it.” “Oh no, I recognize you, tempter. Get thee behind me Satan!” It is easy to fast when these urges are parsed out. If the fast is within Abba’s will He will supress the biological urge and all we have left to deal with are habit and satan. Easy, right?

Somehow it is easier to deal with life during a fast than in the mundane. I’ll tell you why. We enter into agreement with an obvious beginning and usually a completion. It is a specific time to be reckoned with. The hunger tests are obvious and direct. You kinda know what you’re up against.

Normal everyday life, on the other hand, continues rolling in all day every day with sometimes overwhelming impulse: buy this, eat this, say that, respond, vent, stuff. Input, output, program, pulse, urge. Ugly. Unconscious living and frankly a waste!

After consuming most of the bagel, it was made clear to me we must take everything to Yeshua. I nodded yes while I chewed. We must awaken to these drives and not stuff our lives anymore! It must be made apparent why we want to do what we want to do and go to the root of the issue and deal with it. Not by our own power. Impossible! But by His alone. Look at 2 Corinthians 10:3.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

And through the writing of this my teeth rip unmercilessly into my thumbnail. The irony isn’t lost on me. Now that’s a family line issue. My father bit his nails. My mother managed to stop biting hers around the same time she quit smoking cigarettes. I’m a work in progress.

 

 

 

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