My son forgets to eat. He does what most of us do not, and only eats when his body tells him he’s hungry. This is great, except for one thing: sometimes he can’t rely on his body. He can skip lunch, no matter what I pack him to eat, and when he comes home from school he still insists he isn’t hungry. The thing is, his behavior indicates otherwise. He’s grumpy, irritable, emotionally volatile. When I notice this behavior, I’ve learned that he needs to eat. Sometimes I have to practically force feed him, but inevitably he calms down, stabilizes, and soon is back to normal.

I have a friend who knows she’s hungry, but who doesn’t eat. She’s not anorexic, and it’s not about a diet. She hungers spiritually to belong to a church, to be fed on a regular basis. The only problem is, she doesn’t go to church. She knows why it’s important to be there; she understands the value of fellowship and corporate praise, but she’s had some bad experiences and doesn’t want to go. The thing is, she’s starving. It’s kind of like a person who got food poisoning, and no matter what, even though there’s nothing else to eat and it’s obvious to everyone else that the food in front of her is safe and edible, she won’t let herself try it. Maybe it’s the fear of going through that again. Maybe it’s simply a case of her body not telling her she’s hungry. Maybe it’s telling her and she won’t listen. But maybe, just maybe, she could realize that what made her sick was a piece of bad chicken and this other church is offering prime rib. It doesn’t have to be the same. It’s possible for the food in front of her to nourish her rather than make her sick. Maybe it will even do more than simply provide her with the nutrients necessary to survive. Perhaps it could renew her energy. Perhaps it could drastically improve her outlook on life.

Just like with my son, sometimes I have to be pushy. So that’s what I’m doing. Reminding her, because I love her and want to see her thrive. Because her spiritual health is suffering. Because maybe she doesn’t see what is obvious to outsiders. She is craving something, and she doesn’t have to deprive herself. Even if her family doesn’t want to eat with her. Whether she feasts or nibbles a tiny bit at a time. Either way, it’s good for her. I have heard that when someone is physically starving, if they go long enough without what they need, their body turns against them. It will reject the very thing necessary for it to survive. I pray that my friend will sit down at the table. At least open the menu. See what’s on it.

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