Jun 30, 2010

Thoughts about "Women, Food and God" part 1

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. This post has been rattling around in my head for a good week or so.  Every time the thoughts are at their clearest and flowing freely, I am either in the middle of something or have yet to begin a chore that I desperately need to do.  Then, when the time comes to get it out, the thoughts aren't there or aren't as clear. Frustrating. So, I apologize for any rambling-ness to this entry.

I recently listened to an audiobook that was lent to me by a friend. It's a popular title, "Women, Food and God" by Geneen Roth. I am glad to have listened to this book, because I may not have made it all the way through if I was reading it. I'm also glad for some of the thoughts that were expressed in the book. It was written for anyone who eats or thinks about food obsessively or nearly obsessively. I valued a lot of what Ms. Roth had to say and I think it shed some light on an area in my life that I had not been thinking about correctly. However there are quite a few ideas and views with which I certainly did not agree. First and foremost, I did not agree with how she identified and defined "God." All I will say about that for now is that this book does not refer to the One True God rather a god that was created by the author for her own benefit and the supposed benefit of the reader.

The disagreement I'd like to unfold more is her idea that in order to set things right in our mind we need to find and go back to the part that is inside each of us that is not broken, still pure, and that we are to learn to trust ourselves again by focusing on and identifying this part in our being. There was so much riding on this idea in the book that I'm actually surprised that I still found some helpful ideas, but I did. 

I agree with her that the way I have viewed food and eating is broken and I really appreciated some ideas and guidelines that she suggested to help relearn how to view food correctly.  However, I firmly disagree with the idea that suggests that there is any part of myself that is unbroken or completely pure. You see, I'm human and therefore when I was born I was already imperfect. In this world there is no one that is perfect, no one that is unbroken, not even one. So, I have been irked by this idea since she first brought it up. 

If I am to make any headway in solving this broken area in my life I need to rely on *THE* Unbroken One, The God and Father who created us and loves us even in our brokenness.  I need to continually acknowledge that I do not have the power to fix myself and humbly admit that there is nothing good in me save the work of my Father in my heart.  HE provided the solution to this sinful state that we live in.  I think that buying into this idea that there is some part of me that has been unaffected by the world is going to lead to nothing but frustration and discouragement and will just feed into the cycle.

Since listening to this book I have been praying that God would give me the wisdom I need to make better choices regarding food and my relationship to it. He is faithful just as he says he will be:

If you don't know what you're doing, pray to the Father.
He loves to help. You'll get his help, and won't be
condescended to when you ask for it.
James 1:5 MSG

Praying to God (the real one) and really thinking about the reasons I want to eat at any particular time has been a huge help. It takes practice and there are a few helpful suggestions that Geneen Roth has provided. I plan on writing about this book again (hence the part 1 in the title), but for now I just had to get these thoughts out before I completely lost them.


Eileen said...

I think her point is just that there was a time in your/my/her life when food was just used to survive. We were hungry, we ate. Then because of things that happened in our lives and the comfort we found in eating, we replaced that food = survival equation with food = pleasure/comfort/peace/happiness/whatever. Not that we were ever perfect and not in need of God, just that we once had a normal, "unbroken" relationship with food and then something "broke." At least that's how I'd interpret it.

Could it mean that?

Devon said...

I think the confusion is her constant use of the term "god". (Which, by her definition could really just be defined as your inner self.) The basic premise of the book was to determine why we, as women, are prone to turn to food to fill a void and/or brokenness.

I learned about the book from watching an Oprah episode. That said, I knew going into it (simply because she backed it up) that there would be a great deal of "hoakiness" and a little bit that was personally applicable (which I believe I said to you when I suggested it).

I laughed at what you wrote about being glad you listened to it instead of reading it. I thought the exact opposite! I found the author's voice and stories to be terribly annoying. Would have loved to have been able to skip over entire sections.

Livi V. said...

Thanks for your comments! I had so many thoughts swirling about this book that I guess I didn't do a great job of giving the background of the thought I disagreed most with. And I really did appreciate a lot of what she had to say. I just wish she would have stopped at "Women and Food" and left her version of God out of it.

So, hopefully this will help clarify what I was referring to with my disagreement. When she talked about the "unbroken" part of us, she didn't relate it back to food for survival. It was about how we felt when we were young and didn't have a care in the world or how we feel when we see a loved one smile, etc. I would 100% agree with her if she were talking about it in those terms.

When she referenced god she flat out said that she believes that "god" is within each of us (as in we are gods not God living in our heart) and we need to tap into that. The line that has been irking me so much is this, from the epilogue:

"...and if you are willing to refrain from dieting and needing an instant solution and if you want to use your relationship with food as the unexpected path, you will discover that god has been here all along. In the sorrow of every ending, in the rapture of every beginning, in the noise and in the stillness, in the upheavals and in the rafts of peace, in each moment of kindness you lavish upon your breaking heart or the size of your thighs. With each breath you take, god has been here [she took a slight breath during this part and I was feeling so uplifted, but then she continued...], she is you."

So, that's where we differ. I agree with you in that we DO need God and need to depend on him to give us what we need but Geneen Roth does not agree with us.

I seriously learned a lot and will be doing another entry about what I learned so stay tuned...

Devon said...

Oh my gosh! I forgotten about that part until just now. Now that I think about it though, I remember snickering and shaking my head as I hit eject. So hoaky!

It kind of reminds of how I felt after reading Eat, Pray, Love. I was into it at times, but had a similar reaction at the end.

Eileen said...

And, PS - I didn't even read/listen to it yet. I was just trying to maybe interpret what she may have been trying to say from your points.

But when you put it that way, um...yeah. Weird-o-rama. I do think that we were born with a healthy relationship to food. Sometimes it's like money to me in that I wish I didn't need it to live. Like, I can do without alcohol or drugs just fine...just don't have it around (not that I'd be doing drugs if they were lying around my house, but you know what I mean.) But food, I need. I need to keep it in my house. So I need to fix my relationship with it or figure out why it's "broken" or whatever.