Every now and then, living overseas, you get one of those pregnancy-worthy cravings (even if you’re a guy, apparently). For my husband, it was one of those drive-thru burgers and a fountain Coke. Ooh, and tortilla chips and salsa. For me, Greek yogurt with blueberries, then some edamame, with a Starbucks Frappuccino on the side (decaf, with whip). And really good cheese.
Thankfully, none of these were really nutritionally driven. Sometimes I think we’re just hungry for what our hankerings represent. For comfort; ease. Home.
When you’re a bit wobbly
Ever feel a little bit…tippable?
I felt this last week, curving through the aspens on the way to pick up my son. I felt strangely vulnerable–not in the powerless-to-change-my-circumstances sense I witnessed of many in poverty, but the kind borne of deep longing. Many, many things right now are going right for my family as we transition. But every now and then, something knocks me a bit. I find myself scrabbling for that sense of purpose in which I basked in Africa, purpose as tangible as my own hands. For the vast majority of the time, I find great meaning in what I’m doing now.
But that hollow sense left occasionally still unsteadies me.
For me personally, right now, I recognize that I desire to matter; for my work to matter. To be desired and appreciated; valued; attractive. To be wanted. To make a difference and feel confidence that I am distinctive and have something to offer. That I am received and longed for.
Hear that “approval” thread throughout? That yawning chasm in me?
Allow me to flash back a few years–thankfully water long meandered under the bridge. But man, at the time, it gnawed at me like a toothache, boring into me. I was angry about something–someone, really, who I felt had taken me for granted. It was my husband, bless his pea-pickin’ heart, who gently pointed out I was gripping my anger past its due season. I was nursing it, confident in my righteousness.
Thing was, I couldn’t shake it. Why did this still clutch at me?
I know now this was a dashboard light of sorts: A flare-up of already irritated tissue (like that extra sensitivity to allergens when we’re stressed out). Something deeper was being trampled.
I’ve written before that so often, disproportionate reactions are indicators of the iceberg hovering beneath our surface. At least three times this week, I’ve reminded myself, I think this is the stressed version of that person. This realization awakens my compassion and understanding, rather than being taken aback by the face-value of someone’s reactions. Now, when I’m seeking to understand people around me–or my own out-of-whack responses to life–that reality sends me digging. Digging, really, for holes.
Questions to understand disproportionate reactions
Could I be seeing the stressed version of this person?
What lies beneath this reaction? What’s the important thing they really long for (start with the large categories of power, approval, comfort, security)? What might feel trampled on?
Or is this playing on a painful previous circumstance–punching a past bruise?
In this post, I explored how our dissatisfaction–usually in four core areas of comfort, power, approval, or security–leaves us feeling hungry. Hole-y.
Sometimes the stressed or grieving version of ourselves simply leaves us…starving.
Author Gary Thomas speaks of a moment on tour in Hawaii when a guide mentioned that they were standing by “the most dangerous plant in Hawaii”. The entire tour group stepped back. The guide articulated that the plant only grows on the most dangerous slopes. If you’re close to it–mind yourself. You’re close to falling.
I recall this because our longings, I think, can make us that kind of dangerous; that kind of vulnerable. When our cravings surge in their strength–so often in our most vulnerable moments, when we’re stressed or grieving or otherwise unmoored–that unsatisfied version of ourselves leaves us teetering; flailing for equilibrium.
I think this is why we hear stories of pastors leaving churches and wives for that adulterous affair. Why we immerse ourselves in habits that clearly aren’t healthy, but at least provide some semblance of escape. Why we hear of moms leaving their families. Why kids turn to addiction.
The holes leave us ravenous, yearning; exposed and susceptible.
For my people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me,
the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water. (Jeremiah 2:13)
That afternoon last week, I felt around for my antidote. And really–this is where belief comes in. It’s where I must acknowledge the lie, and deny it: that apparent, immediate fulfillment I’m depending upon to make my life sing–I will always find it lacking.
The antidote: trusting that God is my missing puzzle piece. (Oh yes, you hear it too, don’t you? “You…complete me.”) Your love is better than life, Lord. You are enough. Nothing can come close to filling the God-shaped holes in me.
My craving can’t be quenched with anything–anything, kids or a husband or parents or boss or some dream or finally being free of x. My holes’ hearty, exuberant satisfaction is found in a solitary place. I must believe God’s love–provision–control–comfort–are enough. (Not even my kids’ safety. Or my control of my husband. Or my own perfection. Or everyone approving of me. Or nabbing that promotion.)
He’s the only Bread that satisfies my hunger; the only Well that doesn’t leak.
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