Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Spiritual Eating Disorders

“feast upon the words of Christ … , the words of Christ will tell [us] all things what [we] should do” (2 Ne. 32:3).

Eating is a normal part of everyday life. Everyone has to do it to survive. It's sad that many people don't understand that they also have to feed their spirits, that our souls need nourishment too. I think that we sometimes slip into the patterns of spiritual eating disorders, and it can take a lot of "treatment" to bring us back to a healthy way of life.

The first (and probably most prevalent) spiritual eating disorder would have to be anorexia. This would when a person either severely restricts their spiritual diet by not reading scriptures, not praying, etc. or by being so controlling over it that they miss the spirit of it entirely and their spirit grows thinner and weaker.

The next disorder would be bulemia. This would be characterized by periodic but zealous gorging on the word. It would include those who feel the fire of testimony kindling within them, jump in wholeheartedly and focus so much on the scriptures or other parts of the gospel that they miss sight of the life they're supposed to be living and the people they can be helping, and soon grow weary from the severe effort they're putting forth and give up entirely, often reverting to anorexic tendencies.

Finally, we have binge-eating disorder. This is similar to bulemia in that the person will often "binge" on the gospel... throwing themselves into it with abandon. But it's often more sporadic. You'll see them at church for awhile, maybe a few months, and then they fall away again. They often have a sense that their life is out of control and struggle with finding balance.

All of these disorders are usually accompanied by a deep sense of guilt or shame. Seldom will sufferers feel the contentment, joy, and peace that God intended us to have.

Treatment options for these disorders is limited. There are no drugs that help, no instant cure. It takes consistent but balanced effort to stay in recovery. Following a 5 Step Program like the following may help:

1. Pray. Talk sincerely to Heavenly Father. Do it often!
2. Study the scriptures. Don't just glance over them or do it so you can check it off for the day. Really take the time to find out what God is saying to you through His word.
3. Go to church. There is strength in the fellowship of other believers. Let their testimonies help to lift you.
4. Serve others. Quit focusing on yourself and your problems and look around for someone in need. Do something nice for someone else.
5. Do an honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses, giving thanks to God for those things you excel in and asking for help with the things you struggle with. Recognize that God has a unique purpose for your life.

I think that we can all see ourselves in one or more of these disorders at one time or another. We will probably need to be in "recovery" for the duration of our lives. It takes God's grace to overcome them, but He is willing to help us take the steps. He wants us to enjoy the feast without guilt.


Anonymous said...

That is way awsome, especially after our conversations last night.

Anonymous said...

I need this so bad right now, but unfortunately, I just don't have the strength (energy) to do it. I have been lacking for a LONG time now and have found myself slipping little sins here and there that never were an issue for me before.
I am definitely an anorexic right now.
I know that if I put forth the effort, that I will be blessed with the desire (energy) to do it.
You are my hero. I wanna be like you when I grow up!

Papa D said...

Great post, Patty.

It reminds me of what I wrote during my 2008 New Year's Resolution posts about hungering and thirsting after righteousness - but I'm too tired right now to go into my archives and find a link. lol

I'd like to be like you when I grow up, but I don't want to have to go through what you've been through - so I'll stick with being myself. ;)

chelle said...

Natural man + satan = suffering from all of those disorders if we don't keep it in check.
I am definitely in an anorexic stage. Too bad I can't keep spiritual "fat" and lose belly fat in the process! lol
Thanks for your post. always love reading them.

Mama D said...

Love your analogy! You have the neatest insights, and I always learn something from you.

I wish we could enjoy the feast together in person, instead of sharing our bits of hard-earned wisdom through cyber space... :)

chelle said...

Me too Michelle. I sure could use a study group about now!