One of the comments from this recent article in the New York Times Magazine on diet culture in America says:

As humans I think we are all seeking something more. We all want to be better, and to be different. Some days we love ourselves. Some days we don’t. This Feature went way beyond weight for me, it spoke about the common constant striving of humanity and about shared desires and secrets….of our anxieties, our struggles, our sadness, and our love and hopes.

There is so much awareness in the words above. We all spend so much time and energy to be better and to stand out. Sometimes we think we measure up to the external and internal expectations of ourselves. Sometimes we miss the mark. Sometimes we eat what we believe we should eat to be “good” or “holy” or “well” or “healthy.” Sometimes we don’t.

We figure out ways to enjoy life and to fit into the boxes we’ve picked out—the ones we want to fold our (thin) selves into so we can protect ourselves from harm, secure and safe. We make homemade chocolate truffles with expensive coconut oil and fancy, bittersweet cocoa powder for Valentine’s Day. We make fruit trifles with gluten free, organic, low-sugar cake mix and an assortment of fresh berries and coconut whipped cream for Independence Day. We make Paleo pumpkin pie with an almond and coconut oil crust for Thanksgiving. We cut our wine with club soda. We cut our guacamole with peas. We use vegetables in place of noodles. We use cashews in place of cheese.

Sometimes we eat the real versions of the foods we want to enjoy instead of our modified versions that make us feel better about ourselves. But then we feel good about ourselves for eating the real versions of our favorite foods. We think, “I’m fine. I’m not worried about my body or my appearance or my calories or my points. I’m free from our culture’s insane body ideals.” And sometimes it’s true. Sometimes we aren’t worried. But if that’s the case, we find other things to make us feel better about ourselves. Maybe it’s our grades or our work performance or our woke Tweets about social justice issues. Maybe it’s how we haven’t dropped an f-bomb since that one party during our senior year in college. Maybe it’s how we always, always, let that person in front of us who’s trying to merge onto a busy highway during rush hour.

We will find ways not to need Jesus and bypass the gospel. It’s an automatic response to our “anxieties, our struggles, our sadness, our love, and hopes” as the NYT commenter says. We have spiritual amnesia, and the only cure is being reminded of the truths of the gospel over and over and over. We read the Book of Common Prayer or the Psalms or The Gospel of John and see ourselves in those mirrors Gods holds up to us. He shows us Himself and He shows us who we are, and we are relieved because it all makes sense again. We can stop striving and grasping and rest for a little while. We show up at Worship on Sundays, at this Mockingbird website, or at the Mockingbird conferences and hang out with others who also can’t seem to remember we are all completely incapable of earning even a sliver of our righteousness. And God keeps pouring out his grace on us. While we’re baking those Paleo pies or Tweeting about the latest atrocity or pressing the brakes to let someone merge—His grace covers us. It covers us in our “righteous works” and our unrighteous failings. It covers us if we worry about our bodies and food all day or if we worry about our grades and language all day. It’s a steady, constant rain that falls in the desert as well as in the verdant places. And we stand there, ignoring our umbrellas and galoshes, getting soaked. We splash in the puddles and catch drops on our tongues. We taste and see that the Lord is good.

I’m posting about this new journey toward freedom and health every three or four weeks here at Mockingbird. I hope you join me and read along as I process what it might look like to live in light of the gospel in areas connected to food and my body. These are issues many people struggle with and I pray Jesus shows us Himself, His way, and His truth. (I’m also sending out a weekly newsletter devoted to this new endeavor. You can sign up for it here.)

You can read the other parts here.