Guest post by Janel Breitenstein
I spoke to two women this week—women I would describe as hungry.
Both were choosing tough situations: not situations where they needed to endure, but choices that twanged my heart like a violin string. Choices whose destination would be obvious if they weren’t within them. I found myself wordless.
My friends seemed desperate for a safe embrace from me. For acceptance. But my head clanged with warning. Y’know those situations where you wonder if you’ll burn precious equity if you speak now?
It’s not a situation new to me. I think Jesus witnessed it, with soft, seeing eyes, in the woman at the well (John 4). Too many uneducated, desperate, physically famished and exhausted women I knew in Africa turned to pregnancy to pay the bills, hopefully securing a provider.
It would have been easy for me to perch on a moral high horse, brain spouting lines from True Love Waits campaigns. But I’d never gone that hungry. Education, a loving family, and a full fridge left me stocked with choices that made sense to a well-fed brain.
Feasts vs. Fences
My encounters this week made me think of a concept described by a large-animal veterinary friend of mine, who quoted Pastor Kempton Turner. Turner explains that when seeking to keep a horse on your property (which on average weigh 840-2200 pounds. I looked that up), go for a feast rather than a fence. Well-fed horses chewing a thick buffet of pasture don’t really care to charge the fence.
Even if you’ve never gone physically hungry beyond your own volition, I’m guessing you can still resonate with seasons where heart-hunger bores into you like a toothache.
And when starving, we’re vulnerable.
We’re reaching for the metaphorical bag of chips above the fridge we said we’d never touch. Shoot, the kids’ leftover sandwich crusts look good. You could fill a spoon with Dijon mustard and be okay.
It’s why addiction or affairs or leaving a posse of kids behind looks appealing. Because lies are awfully easy to believe when right now, you just want something to fill you.
What are you hungry for?
God knows this about us. Knows the cravings eating away at us, bite by bite.
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)
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 (Psalm 63:1-4).
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 hunger’s 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 signing off on my appearance and choices. Or finally sealing the deal that promotion. (I know that’s been my story, searing as it is to recall.)
He’s the only Bread that satisfies my hunger (John 6:35). The only Well that doesn’t leak (John 4:13-14).
Know Your Hunger
But here’s the other thing, friends. My hunger sneaks up on me. I may think it’s not that big of a deal if my marriage shows signs of slipping off the edge, or that I’m snapping at my kids for lack of my own self care, or that I can’t think of a single friend I’d call at 3 AM.
But pretending my hunger isn’t there? It might mean sneaking a veritable cupcake of satisfaction doesn’t feel like that big of a deal.
After all. Eve’s hunger wasn’t just for fruit. Just sayin’.
This week, choose to compassionately see the hunger lying beneath your friends and your own choices. Address the hunger rather than just the swiped, illegitimate satisfaction.
And together, seek the Feast who will actually satisfy.