America is the land of plenty…plenty of freedoms, plenty of resources, plenty of excess. In our land of milk and honey, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy balance, especially when it comes to food (and faith.) Because I’m weak and have been caught eating chocolate chip cookies for breakfast, I need people in my life to keep me on track. My husband, a heart attack survivor, is always asking “Is this heart healthy?” And our daughter’s philosophy of “we are what we eat” has our whole family thinking about portion control.
Growing up on the farm we girls helped feed the cows, and my children did the same. The normal portion for each cow was one bale of hay, half in the morning and half in the evening. If we milked the cow or she had a calf, she got an additional one pound coffee can full of sticky sweet feed that smelled like molasses. It was believed the grain produced more milk and we doled it out in each of their feed boxes accordingly. The sheep were less orderly. During lambing season, their grain was poured into a long trough and when we threw open the door, they raced in like a Black Friday sale at Walmart, each one fighting for the portion they felt they deserved.
I’ve told it before but it merits repeating that there was a time when possums were coming on the porch at night to eat the cats’ food and Daddy didn’t like it. So eager was he to protect the cat’s portion that he leaped out of bed and ran around the corner of the house with his shotgun with mom yelling at him “not to shoot the house again”.
We would all benefit if we likewise had someone so determined to protect our portions. It’s tragic and alarming, but while we have been eager to get the most bang out of our buck, our portions have become reckless. Look it up. Bagels and cheeseburgers have doubled in size and calories! Everywhere you look they are trying to lure us in with supersized menu items. At an antique store recently I spotted a hamburger press from the 1950’s. At first I thought it was a toy for a child’s play kitchen but quickly realized their full size burgers were the size of our “sliders” today. Go measure your dinner plates…mine are 12” but in the 1950’s they were 9”! When it comes to portions, we’re out of control.
When we shake the hypnosis of fast food, we know bigger isn’t always better. Quality over quantity should be our anthem. Sometimes we just want more though, right? Have you ever added water to the almost empty jar of salad dressing because you needed it to go just a little farther? Mom makes a delicious lemonade where she mixes 2 lemons, 1 orange, 1 lime if she has one, and ¾ cup sugar in a half gallon mason jar of water. She tries to get some extra mileage out of the fruit so when the lemonade is gone, she will refill the jar with additional sugar and water. This “second round” isn’t nearly as flavorful and I’ve seen the disappointment in peoples’ eyes when they took that first sip. When you’ve tasted the real thing, you recognize when it’s been watered down.
And this brings me to my conclusion that faith is a lot like our food intake. Our lives might look like an all you can eat buffet, but what are we eating? Is it a watered down Gospel? Are we consuming “food substitutes” instead of the real thing? And when it comes to “portion control”, are we compromising? The writer of Psalm 73:26 was not a nutritionist but shows us a true recipe for health and happiness “But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Now that’s heart healthy!
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Janet Cowger- Fliegel