There are two types of people in this world. People who live to eat and people who eat to live. It will come to no surprise to my friends and family that I fall into the former category. I don't just love food -- it is one of my greatest passions. There are few things I enjoy more than sharing a great meal with someone I care about or cooking up a storm in my kitchen or writing about a fabulous new restaurant on my food blog, Diana Takes a Bite. In many ways, food is a driving force in my life that can only be paralleled by my faith and relationship with God.
Recently, I have begun to notice that my focus on food has started to detract from that relationship with God. Instead of giving my complete attention to Pastor Mark Brewer's sermons on Sunday mornings at Bel Air Pres, I'm half-thinking about what I'm going to order at brunch after. Instead of reading the Bible on a regular basis, I spend my spare time reading cookbooks and perusing food blogs and sites. And instead of surrounding myself with fellow Christians, I surround myself with fellow foodies.
For some time I have been concerned that my love affair with steak, ice cream, peanut butter, pasta, cheese, etc. has been interfering with my growth as a Christian woman, and it became even more apparent to me a few Sundays ago when Pastor Brewer preached a sermon about Matthew 6. He quoted the following:
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes.... So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well..." (Matthew 6:25-33)
While Pastor Brewer's message was not specifically referencing my particular situation, the words stuck in my head. I can't shake the sense that God is telling me that I need to re-shift my focus and make sure that my faith is the first priority in my life. Part of me wants to ignore it -- to continue letting my foodie-ism define me -- but in my heart I know that my most noteworthy characteristic is not my ability to whip up a fabulous shrimp risotto or chicken marsala. My most noteworthy characteristic is my faith.
This year for Lent, I am, as usual, giving up chocolate. It is my favorite thing to eat, and it is the rare day that I don't have at least a little piece of chocolate after both lunch and dinner. Forgoing my favorite treat is always a struggle, but this year it seems to be even more so. Intertwined in my commitment to not eat chocolate for 46 days, is also a commitment to be more focused on living like Christ rather than living like a foodie. It's not just about not eating chocolate, it's symbolic of an attempt to recalibrate my world view to be not of this world, but rather of the world that awaits me in Heaven.
I wish I could end this post by saying that I've been successful in this pursuit. I wish I could describe how I no longer care what I eat for dinner or what I order at a restaurant. I wish I could take off my "food" goggles like I take off a pair of earrings. Unfortunately, I haven't gotten to that point yet. I'm not sure that I will ever be able to not care about what it is I put in my mouth, but I am thankful that I at least know that there is something more important. And I am thankful that I can be reminded of that every time I resist the chocolate bars in the check-out stand at the grocery store, every time I watch my mom eating a chocolate cookie, and every time I drink a cup of tea without a piece of chocolate to go with it.