Sunday, August 5, 2012

Pass the Bread Please - Food or Fellowship?

Last month a blogger friend reached out to me after I published my post on food addiction.

She has a group titled Project 10, and I don't yet know all the nuances of this group but they link their blogs on Wed.  I don't even know what Project 10 means...10 lbs?  10 days?  10 inches?  Frankly I can sign up for 10 lbs and 10 inches.  I know their subject is their pursuit of a Healthier Life.  I am on the same page there with our Healthy Choices.  Overeating, food addiction, name it and these women will convict the snot right out of your head.

This week Stephanie of Stephanie's Mommy Brain posted about one of the remaining remnants of my social life.  She asked about whether our social time was about food or about our relationships.

Ack.  She's killing me.  Now she focused on her date night with her husband.  But as an empty nester, date night is nearly every night if we wanted it to be.   No, what immediately entered into my mind was the social activities of church and the fellowship of women.  Just recently on an "off" week of our Bible study, we chickies met for dinner, dessert or just water and lemon.  The food was really good, but our fun and laughter was the best.  But for me, the food is the ice breaker.  It stops the awkward silences....if someone stopped talking it may not because they were offended by what we said, object or disagree.  They were likely to just be chewing their salad.

So the concept of fellowshipping with women WITHOUT the distraction of food, feels....unbiblical.  Okay...that's a reach but I could argue it's proven by the fact that Christ's first miracle featured an event with food and wine.  I don't know HOW to fellowship with women without food, not for flat out fellowship.  In our Bible studies, they are generally food free but for the few times someone is in the mood and brings in a treat.   But it's certainly not weekly.  Not even monthly.  But you say...hey let's get together for a fun night and there will invariably be discussion on "what will we bring to eat?"  Should we do potluck? Soup or Salad?  Should we do (dare we say the D word) Dessert?  Even when we want to keep it low fat or body friendly, we will say....veggie trays, fruit trays...but it all equates to food has to be part of fellowship for it to feel fun and like fellowship.

Stephanie asked the question...
Do you go out with friends for the food or for the relationships?

I hated that question.

Obviously I'm meeting my friends for the relationship.  I want to build more relationship.  But I confess to the feeling that we need to (for lack of a better description) grease the skids of fellowship.  To get conversation going.  We had a riotous good time in that restaurant that night.  I climbed into the car and my husband grinned at me and asked "Is your estrogen gauge refueled?"  I assured him it was.  We women had laughed, probably loud and obnoxiously.  We caught up on each other's life, we talked over each other, and we surrounded each other with the sense of belonging and community.

A woman can go from, "Oh my word, this dip is a-MAZ-ing!" to "I'm feeling inappropriate feelings for a coworker" in the blink of an eye when she has a pita chip in her hand.  But where food is absent, we seem to squirm in our seats and peek at each other as the clock ticks quietly on the wall.  We desperately long for someone to say something meaningful. But we sit in awkward silence until something happens.  Watch what happens to that same group of women if you unzip the big bag of peanut M & Ms.

This isn't a problem in Bible study and certainly not if I'm there because if it's quiet, it's a signal to me that I get to use my WORDS!  But fellowship with people with whom you have not developed that deep knowing and respect for...we search for ways to connect.  And food helps us find that connection.  I don't know HOW to connect without the ease of foods.

When I want to minister to someone who is sick...I immediately think of soup, or my chicken and rice.  When I want to treat someone special I think of my tea and cream cheese chicken.  When I just want to be homey, I think of my homemade yeast bread.  If I feel domestic, I bake a cake or cookies. From scratch.  I eat a few and then try to think of an unsuspecting accomplice to foist these extras off on.  I usually focus on someone with kids.  I try to be respectful and choose the skinny kids.  My landlady's bony children have eaten more than a few of my cupcake and cookie rejects.  And they wipe out my extra butter-cream icings by the spoonfuls.  They love me.  They cheer when I knock on the door.  Now I feel that I'm failing them if I'm just there to report that there's a leak under the sink.

I would love for some dialogue on how to resolve this food vs fellowship quandary I foisted upon myself...thank you EVER so much Stephanie.  Anyone got any ideas on separating food from fellowship?  I would love to hear how you invite someone to your home, with no intention of at least offering them dessert.   Does your church schedule food-less fellowship?  Anyone?

Anyone got anything?

Anything? *cicadas buzz in the background, the fish tank bubbles as the entire world waits for me to unzip the giant bag of peanut M&Ms.*


  1. Mmmm... I'll have to "chew" on this awhile before I post a response. (It's a little too early in the morning for me to form coherent thoughts...) Just wanted you to know I read your post and now I have Stephanie AND you to thank for getting my train of thought rolling this morning. :)

  2. Hmm.. I'm glad you enjoyed my post, conviction and all. You've taken my thoughts a different direction than I was going but it definitely works. My intent was just to examine my motives and emotions for going out with my husband or friends. Was I looking forward to the time with them and conversations or was I thinking more about the food!

    I don't think food is necessarily a bad thing at social events. And there is definitely benefits to sharing meals with each other. But I do think our Christian church culture places way too much emphasis on food. Now days Sunday school requires a coffee urn and pastries before we get down to prayer requests and Bible study.

    I think it's because we eating without thinking about what we are eating. It's a mindless activity that has become intertwined with fellowship and Bible study. It's kind of like how I wear glasses 90% of the time. But the other 10% when I wear contacts I still find myself reaching up to push my glasses back into place. Obviously I don't need to push the glasses up, they aren't there. But it's a habit.

    I wonder if you began offering pitchers of ice water to drink and fruit salad or veggie tray (withOUT dip!)how people would react. I wonder if our interactions would become deeper if we no longer had food to hide behind. Just a thought. :)

  3. You. crack. me. up! I love this! I have no answers. I guess that's because I'm still in denial about how very much I need to get back into shape;) I just wanted to tell you how awesome you are!

  4. I think the whole culture we live in is obsessed with food. Food tv- two whole channels of nothing but glorifying food. Food focus used to be connected to celebrations, funerals, illnesses and new babies only- when I was growing up. We never had coffee at church, now my church has a coffee shop open during church- incongruous to my thinking. Water was from a water fountain, now there's buckets of water bottles, donuts were an occasional treat- not every Sunday morning. Potlucks were attached to fellowships,once a quarter. and every summer we had all-day singing and dinner on the ground- the sawhorses and plywood were set up in the shade and the whole church had a blast. those are good memories; but yes, food related. Today, between commercials, billboards, jingles, and tv shows and movies about food it's hard not to focus on what "tastes good". Food does relate to comfort and scripture does use food in illustrations- "Taste and see that the Lord is good" "fruit of the spirit", etc. So Stephanie, how do we know where the reasonable becomes the unreasonable. I agree, Tina, that the minute food comes out in a group of women the wheels of our mouths are greased for talking,though! Maybe it's the multi-tasker in us coming out?

  5. Nancy, I think you've pointed out what's unreasonable just at church. Food and/or drinks (specifically coffee) is everywhere and all the time. As adults can we not drink our coffee with our breakfast at home before we go to church? Must we drink coffee while worshiping? As for food at fellowships, aren't we just mindlessly eating? Not because we are hungry or because it's a special holiday, but because we've become conditioned to eat without thinking about what were eating.

    I don't know what the answer is. I'm guilty of all of this myself and am certainly not throwing stones at anyone. I'm still trying to work through it all myself. And while I write this comment I am majorly craving something sweet. Chocolate would hit the spot nicely. And there is a Hershey's bar screaming my name. But I'm not hungry. And don't need the chocolate. But I sure do want it.

  6. Yep...I know I like the food with the fellowship. It doesn't matter to me if it's fruit/veggies or pies. It is a comfort and security thing for me. I need something to DO with my hands and something to help me not talk so much-that is an insecurity if mine. It's not hard to tell as I have about 50 pounds to lose. I don't have an answer either. I am pretty sure the fellowships in third world countries do not gather around a huge spread of casseroles and sweets :0(. I wonder how all this abundance of food got started? Did they do the same back in the 1800's?The American culture is one of abundance...the more the bigger the better. Something to think about for sure. Thanks to you both :0).