Food has held power over me for a long, long time.
In the house I grew up, my food was restricted. So for as long as I can remember, I have an inner death grip towards sweets in response to not having an ability to eat junk food. In my teenage years I struggled with an eating disorder, but even after the disorder itself went away, I still struggled with food and maintaining a healthy diet.
I want food, but more importantly, I want to be allowed food.
God gifted me with a very loving husband whose love has healed me from much of my food issues. We eat balanced meals but also allow desserts. I found I could stop with one cookie if there were a way to have another later. The permission part was more crucial than I realized. For the first decade of our marriage, I can confidently say food did not have a pull over me like it once did as a teenager.
However, I can’t say it has been that way over the past seven months. It seems that daily I’m struggling with not only the food I put in my mouth but the intense feeling of needing junk food. I’m working my way through a bag of cookies in a day rather than a month. I’m pretty sure my cravings are stress related, and turning to food instead of the Lord has been my way of dealing with the limbo our family has found itself. I want to make a change, and Jason and I are brainstorming what a new routine might look like for me, but in the midst of all this food ridiculousness, the Lord opened my eyes to a profound truth that certainly applies to marriage!
For a brief season, to rectify my eating, I stopped buying myself junk food. If the permission no longer aided in my self-control, I resorted to limiting the temptation. However, that plan backfired as I realized that healthy food no longer tasted good to me. I may not have brownies to eat, but the thought of fruit or vegetables sounded revolting, and so I went without eating. Which, of course, is not a good plan at all. As I was praying about my disgust towards healthy food, the Lord showed me that the amount of heavily processed food I’ve been eating has robbed me of my ability to enjoy the foods given by God.
Fake has replaced real.
It didn’t take long before I realized the Lord was right, but that this truth applies to more than just food.
Sometimes we allow fake intimacy in marriage to replace real intimacy. Just like opening up a bag of caramel corn is easier than peeling, dicing, and cooking carrots, there are many ways in which a shallow version of intimacy seems appealing because of its ease. It is also true that if you have a piece of cake in front of you next to a bowl of tart blueberries, one is certainly sweeter than the other. Artificial intimacy often appears sweeter than the real deal, but that doesn’t make it the right choice. Intimacy takes work, time, effort, sacrifice, and vulnerability. You can’t substitute those ingredients and except success, but you can take the easy way and become blinded to how healthy intimacy should taste. In a marriage, it is tempting to take comfort in imitation intimacy, but we do so at the sacrifice of oneness God intends.
Real vs. Fake Intimacy
To put practical examples onto this concept, here is a broad list of ways junk intimacy can replace or change our taste towards healthy intimacy:
- Avoiding hard discussions out of pride or lack of energy.
- Keeping the lights off during sex or late night conversations to avoid eye contact.
- Choosing not to share our true feelings so as to please others.
- Exchanging making love with your spouse for the use of pornography/erotica.
- Speaking about your husband rather than to your husband.
- Refusing to get to the root of an issue (or sin struggle) because of the work it will require.
- Watching a TV show together instead of talking or playing a game together.
- Flirting with your spouse more over social media than in real life.
To be sure, nothing wrong with watching (appropriate) shows or flirting with your husband over social media, but when that is the total sum of your intimacy instead of merely a fraction of it, there is a problem. Every couple will have a different level and definition of intimacy, so it is important not to judge or compare, but we do have a blueprint of what God intends for us found in Genesis 2:24-25,
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
Why would God make something so powerful as “oneness” so difficult to obtain? The answer is, he didn’t. He created man and woman and gifted them with intimacy. I don’t think I’m overreaching when I say that the word “naked” implies more than just their physical state. In addition to wearing no clothes, they were emotionally and spiritually unveiled, and they felt no shame. That is the standard God wants us to strive for, and that is the level of intimacy Satan wants to hinder. We might all be at different places on the journey, but let’s encourage each other to aim for a Garden of Eden intimacy in our marriage so that we can be physically, emotionally, and spiritually naked with our spouse and feel no shame.
How do you avoid exchanging this fallen world’s knock-off intimacy for the true oneness God designed?
~Sharing with the Grace and Truth Linkup.