The day after Zach proposed, I celebrated my 25th birthday. I also promised not to drink Coca-Cola for one year.
An entire Coke-less year. Could I resist the delicious temptation of a cold Coke cracked open and poured over ice? I felt a little crazy. And bridal. America’s most popular bridal magazines place “implement a beauty/health regimen” at the top of their downloadable to-do lists. Kissing Coke goodbye would prove that I, Kathleen, could resist Coca-Cola, and perhaps skim off a few college pounds.
Now, please believe me when I say I believe in food. To dispel any doubt, let me tell you this story. In college, my mother represented the Lodge at Whitefish Lake at the annual Wedding Expo. She knew the wedding association’s president. That president was Mimi of Mimi’s Bridal, a local shop that needed a girl for static modeling. Up I went, stationed on the platform to show gown after gown. We models stood fifteen minutes at a time before rotating out. The breaks were brief. The morning wore on. By lunchtime, I was hungry. Mom took me to Frugal’s and bought me a gooey cheesy burger, a bag of fries, and an ice cold Vanilla Coke. Back at the hotel convention center, models from other shops were passing out in the bathroom. They had refused to eat. Or snack.
We’re talking local girls at a local wedding event in a town most Americans mispronounce in a state most folks confuse for Michigan.
God bless that cheeseburger and the excitement of showing gowns for fun. I had a great time posing and even landed a job at Mimi’s bridal.
Flash-forward to the final fitting of my own wedding gown. I was two days away from my first fizzy Coke since my promise. My seamstress tugged at my bodice and said, “You said you’re weight never fluctuates!”
The stress of all things wedding, paired with the toxicity of a bad school year, had killed my appetite. I apologized to my seamstress, who remedied the problem gracefully, and I left her house in shock. Had stress really taken such a toll on my body?
In times of stress, fueling our bodies should be our utmost priority. When pressures weigh heavy on our shoulders, taking care of ourselves should be our default. But it’s not. We rush out of the house without eating breakfast. We work through lunchtime to meet our deadlines. We skimp on dinner because it’s just too late when we finally make it home.
I know that sometimes I’m too busy to even recognize hunger. How silly is that?
I reflected on all of this recently when I prayed a few weeks ago. I’m not talking about the rote prayer before bedtime or the desperate words offered up when disaster strikes. No, Zach was gone for Air Force training, and I found myself alone and lonely. In the silence, I felt God waiting, ready to hear every concern, question, and wish on my heart. I hungrily accepted the invitation to pour out my heart.
The lightness of my heart felt so foreign that it dawned on me, “It’s been too long since I’ve had genuine God-time.” It’s easy to let the day sweep me up in a swirl of busyness and responsibility. I rush out of the house and into maddening traffic. I work through lunchtime without stopping to breathe. I keep myself busy until bedtime, fearful of “idle time.”
I’ve always wanted to be like woman in Proverbs 31:10-31. She does not “eat the bread of idleness.” From dawn to dusk she sews, reaps, invests, and nurtures. She’s quite the woman to emulate. If we are not to eat the bread of idleness, what are we to eat? The answer is not, “Nothing. Keep working!” Even Christ took time out of his busy day to nourish his body (Matthew 14:13-21).
In John 6:35, Jesus proclaims, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry.” Though it troubled me to lose weight because of stress, it troubles me more that I sometimes starve myself spiritually. How can I expect to act like Christ when I sometimes skimp on time with him? The sweetest seasons are those in which I pour out my heart in prayer and partake frequently of His Word. Those are the seasons in which God’s goodness and love fill me to overflowing and spill over into every aspect of my life.
Published originally on August 3, 2015.