We’ve all heard, “You are what you eat!” The food and drink we take in have a physiological affect on our mind, emotions, and body. But what about before we take in the food? What about before we decide to not eat, eat, or overeat? There is something at a deeper level that affects our desire and need for food. This core-level desire also drives our motivation for drinks and other substances we take in. The base motivation is rooted in how we see ourselves. What we think about ourselves will drive what we take in. We find that by reversing our statement we discover a powerful truth about our motivations for eating, drinking, and use of other substances: “You eat what you are.”
What we think about ourselves drives what we do.
What we think about drives what we think we need.
What we think about ourselves drives our appetites.
The book of Proverbs from the Bible records an interesting statement about the power of our mind and its impact on behavior. It says in Proverbs 23:7, “for as he thinks in his heart, so is he”. What is concealed deep in a person’s mind about who he is will drive that person’s behavior and actions. Unhealthy views of ourselves will result in unhealthy eating, drinking, and substance habits.
The message of Jesus Christ is one that radically changes not just our “position” as “saved”. By taking in the wonder of God’s grace by faith, our identity (self-view) is radically altered. We are forgiven, loved, shown mercy. We are also made righteous, holy, and free from the demands to have to measure up. We are set free from a self-obsession of having to make sure we do the right thing. That same self-obsession is what leads to addictive behavior toward food, drink, substances, and behavior.
Those set free from fear, guilt, shame, and self-obsession have a new fruit that begins to sprout from their life. The apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians describes the impact:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
And the affect of not knowing the depth of a new identity as loved, forgiven, and free from the pressure to have to always to do the right thing shows up in an adverse way:
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like
Both set of affects flow from how a person sees themselves. Both flow from our identity. Both affirm “You eat (take in/do) what you are.” An identity rooted in forgiveness, the release of fear, and the freedom of having to impress create a heart of peace, and the ability to have control over impulsive desires. An identity rooted in the need to do more, fear, and self-obsession will lead to an overwhelming appetite for something to fill the void. That appetite will be insatiable and uncontrollable. “You eat what you are.”
Now, please do not think that I perfectly understand these concepts and live in the victory of who I am in Jesus Christ all of the time. I am still learning. I am still growing in my understanding of who I am and I am still growing in how I live that out. What hope and promise there is however in who I am in Christ! What promise there is in what He has done for us! What hope there is in my new identity to be free from self-obsession and in the need for food, drink, and other substances to bring me peace! What life there is what He has done for me!