|Have you ever seen the movie, Kung Fu Panda? The story follows a large panda named Po pursue his dream of becoming a Kung Fu hero. Po, unfortunately is not adept at learning Kung Fu early in his endeavors. He spends his time failing daily, his “mentor” abhors him and doubts his calling, and his peers believe him to be hopeless.
In an effort to comfort himself, Po eats. A lot. In fact, he is amazingly clever and adept at finding any and all food to appease his desire. Shifu, his mentor catches him climbing cabinets in the corner of the kitchen in the middle of the night. Can any of you relate with Po here? Hiding? Eating to ease the pain of failure and feeling left out or in the wrong place?
Shifu, being the clever and inventive mentor, now knows that he can use food as a motivator in Po’s training regimen. If Po performs well, he gets a delicious reward, if not, he cannot eat. The training montage continues, rewards of dumplings fill Po’s motivation and belly as he perfects Kung Fu. It culminates in what really is my favorite scene…
Po finds Shifu sitting at a table with a bowl of dumplings and says…
You are free to eat.
Po, is surprised, looking for the catch and then sits to eat. Every time he tries to take a bite Shifu snatches the dumpling out from under him, every time uttering…
You are free to eat.
Po responds with “Am I?”
to which Shifu says…
The battle for the dumpling is epic! Flips and kicks and chopsticks. Oh my! Finally, Po is victorious and goes to eat the dumpling. But in a surprising turn of events he plops the dumpling down in front of Shifu and says…
“I’m not hungry.”
How often do we make our life about food?
Celebrations of every kind. Rewards for grades, chores completed, goals attained. We obsess about tacos, peanut butter, chocolate, the list goes on and on. We go to it when we feel sad, angry, or left out. We fill our bellies to soothe our hearts. Or we punish ourselves by withholding food because we don’t look like what we would like or because we splurged and ate something off the diet. We use it as a motivator and a deterrent, and a punishment/reward system, just like Po and Shifu.
Are you held captive by food?
Sometimes, without noticing we start going to food first. We allow our emotions, circumstances, beliefs, happiness and fulfillment to be affected by food and our manipulation of it. When we go to food first to feel better we have created a false god out of something God created to sustain us and for us to enjoy. Yes! He wants us to enjoy food! Why do you think he gave us taste buds anyway?
“Remember, it is never about the food. The food is not the enemy. It is something deeper. Our relationship with food is broken because something deep within us is broken. God wants to heal us in those deep places!”
In Isaiah 61:1 it says that He has come to bring freedom to the captives, that’s us! When we learn to seek God first for our emotional, physical, and mental needs we learn to put God in His rightful place in our hearts and restore balance to where food is placed. It will take time to retrain our brains and hormone systems that food is indeed enjoyable fuel but not god. The journey to freedom comes through worshipping the One true God and not our bellies or our bodies.
Yes, we must learn to care for our bodies in self and God honoring ways. Learning to fuel our bodies well and enjoy food is sometimes a battle but one that is so definitely worth it and rewarding in the freedom we can find and the ability to say that we’re not hungry when what we really need is Jesus.
You are FREE to eat.