For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. Psalm 107:9
I like Cheerios. A lot. And not just at breakfast time. I think Cheerios are appropriate for lunch AND dinner, too. I should also note that I like them with AND without milk. So, if you are what you eat…then I’m heart healthy and packed with fiber and whole grain goodness! If only it were that easy. Truth is, in addition to my love for Cheerios, I really enjoy pizza, chocolate ice cream, nachos and several different brands of potato chips. I also think these tasty treats qualify as breakfast, lunch and/or dinner. Gross, huh? Because now it’s pretty obvious that if you are what you eat (Cheerios aside,) I am junk food—loaded with calories, packed with sodium and in every way possible just a cheesy, greasy mess 😦
I don’t want to be a cheesy, greasy mess. Who does? Which is why I’ve carefully chosen the middle of the road where these food cravings are concerned. It’s called MODERATION. We’ve all heard the word. It’s the term that foodies and nutritionists throw around which serves as code for “eat what you want, just not too much.” Have a small bowl of ice cream, instead of the whole gallon. Sounds like a good system. I mean MODERATION allows us to munch on the yummy (yet less than healthy) goodies we desire without any guilt and few consequences, right? Come on…you didn’t just land on the planet! You know that while moderation is all well and good, it can (and usually does) come back and bite us in our ever-expanding back ends. We are human after all…given to temptation and with little (if any) willpower. Watching what we feed our bodies is tough stuff. Health and nutrition can be hard to manage. Time, energy, and money all factor into the equation as well. Which is why I wish Willie Wonka would perfect that “3 Course Dinner Chewing Gum” Violet sampled in the movie. It would really come in handy at my house (sans the exploding blueberry part, of course.)
Clearly, there’s no easy button here. The same goes for what we feed our soul. It seems to be a recurring theme lately. Of course, I’m only speaking for myself, but it feels like everywhere I go that it’s not too hard to decipher one’s soul food diet. For example, the kid who is cussing up a storm at the baseball diamond is palling around with a tribe of kids cussing up the same storm. Never mind that there are three-year old ears in close proximity. Never mind there are grandparents in attendance. Never mind the fact that we all know your parents and you should know better! Somehow, somewhere this child has ingested ugly, nasty words and probably without any forethought, has decided to share them with the world. Look, I’m not the word police. Sure, I personally find it distasteful, but I understand that it is pretty common in today’s culture. That being said, I still would appreciate it if there was some consideration for the “audience.” Comedians, politicians, businessmen/women…most of us know that rule #1 in many parts of the real world is knowing your audience. Bottom line, if you’re going to swear, don’t share. Your friend is sitting right next to you and can easily hear you…so shouting your obscenities really isn’t necessary.
Still, the cussing is pretty benign. When you start adding up all the other foul soul food shares out there…like berating your kids in the store parking lot, trash talking your wife, glamorizing past and current drug use (in front of kiddos no less,) your disdain for the church and religion, your lack of confidence in political leaders, and your basic hate for anyone who doesn’t see life your way…the notion that you are what you eat becomes pretty clear. Listen, I’m not perfect. I know life can be hard. Maybe things haven’t been easy. Rough family life, a bad marriage, children who try your patience and the list goes on. There’s plenty of blame to go around. Often we try to excuse our own behavior by insisting that we don’t know any better or fault the way we were raised. But whether it’s nature or nurture (or a self-labeled “bad habit”) none of this lets any of us off the hook. We’re not all privy to the good life. Understood. But I think there’s an argument to made for the fact that we all WANT the GOOD LIFE. We want to be successful and happy, so let’s start making some personal decisions that breed success and happiness. Decisions that translate into being the absolute best that we can be! When it comes to good soul food, MODERATION doesn’t seem to amount to much. In fact, myself included, we need to be visiting that good soul food trough several times a day. I mean, would it really be terrible to try to attain a little positivity by feeding our soul a few good things?
Nosh on the POSITIVE. Live better, be better. Find kind neighbors. Be a kind neighbor. Show a genuine interest in your family and friends. Practice generosity. Pay it forward. Feast on GOOD news. Share your time and talents with others. Help a stranger. Say hello. Hug your children (often, or as often as they’ll let you.) Sing! Gorge on HOPE. Seek out good, honest friends. Be a good, honest friend. Affirm others. Believe in yourself. Be playful! Smile (a lot.) Be an example. Offer grace. REPEAT. With this menu you can go back for seconds and thirds–guilt free. I truly believe we are all capable of making good choices for ourselves and others.
This is the table that I want to sit at! And I want others to feel free to pull up a chair. Let’s invite our spouse, children, family members we get along with (and especially those we don’t) and our neighbors. Maybe we could all talk it over while enjoying Cheerios (with OR without milk.) Sounds good, doesn’t it? So…who’s hungry?
Food for the body is not enough. There must be food for the soul. Dorothy Day