It’s Thanksgiving Day and we’re stuffed – what did we fill ourselves with?
I know, you’re probably wondering why I even bothered to ask that question, since almost every household eats the same things. Let’s face it, the mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie were too good to pass up – we got seconds, and now we’re stuffed. Everything we just stuffed ourselves with? It has an effect on us. Our stomach likely feels like it’s going to explode, classic eyes are bigger than your stomach syndrome. And that turkey? Yep, it’s makes us tired, and it’s not in our heads – it’s science, consider it a side effect of all of that tryptophan.
While stuffing ourselves with food on Thanksgiving Day – or any day for that matter – is uncomfortable for a while, I’m going to bet we’ve all taken that risk. A little discomfort is nothing compared to the delight that the food brought us in the moment. Though we may not eat after that meal for the remainder of the day, we come back the next day ready to fill ourselves with more food, it’s in our human nature, if we want to survive, we have to eat. Any time we sit down to eat, our body is trained to tell us once we’ve stuffed enough food into our mouths, it tells us “I’m full.”
This concept of being stuffed is a pretty easy one to understand if all we talk about is food. To do that though, would take so much away from what the word “stuffed” has to offer.
Filling ourselves goes far beyond just filling ourselves with food. As humans, God gifted us with the ability to make the choice as to what we fill ourselves with, it’s called having free will. However, those things we fill ourselves with have a variety of effects on us. Depending on what we fill ourselves with, those effects can be good or bad. In the book of Galatians, it lays out for us the effects, or actions, that take place as a result of living a life filled by acting on human desires and living a life of being filled with the Holy Spirit.
For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:17-23
Seeing the results of the actions of the flesh and the fruits of the Spirit, it seems like a no-brainer which one is better, but a lot of times, our actions aren’t a reflection of that. Why not? Likely because living a life acted on our own desires is quite frankly a lot “easier.” Living a life of being filled with the Spirit and pursuing what God has for us is hard. If it were easy we wouldn’t need God. Though it may not be easy, if we can get to the place that God is truly in control of our lives, we can live with a freedom unlike any other.
Now maybe you’re someone who has made that commitment, you’re filled with God’s Spirit, and you’re pursuing the life he has for you. Then, you make it to a certain point of the path and begin to doubt why you made the decisions you did. We all have needs that require being filled all of the time, like the need for community, and regardless of what actions we take, we all have the same amount of time to fill them. If our needs aren’t being met in the way we expect, it can cause us to doubt God and his goodness. In those moments, we must remember that God is always at work and will always provide us with every need we have to continue on the path he has designed for us. 2 Corinthians 9:8 says:
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times,
having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
With that I ask, how can we continue to be people who live mindfully in the things we stuff our lives with this holiday season, not just with food, but with God and in our time and interactions with others as well?