Saturday, March 14, 2009
Sin of the Week: Gluttony
Well, I wonder why I keep forgetting about Kay's Seven Deadly Sins meme. Hmmm... could it have anything to do with the fact that this week's deadly sin is GLUTTONY -- my very favorite and worst and most perpetual of all the sins. Hmmm... I wonder....
I don't want to talk about gluttony. It's a really painful subject and one that I don't have my head screwed on right about. At risk of hawking my own writing (a tragic glutton for readers as well), like the confusion I wrote about earlier this week. The issue of gluttony - which connects directly for me to the issue of weight - is another area in which my mother poisoned my ability to think rationally. My mother started obsessing about my weight almost as soon as I popped out of the womb from what I hear. Well, that's probably (possibly) a bit unfair. The story goes that the doctor gave her the wrong formula and when I was around three months old or so, I got very chubby and broke out in boils... and after that my mother worried about my weight forever. She saw me always as hideously fat and so even before I became hideously fat, I saw myself the same way. Years later in therapy, Dr. Jim asked me to bring photos of myself when I was younger. He saw a normal kid. I saw a little fatty. Oddly even when I was relatively slender, I FELT obese. Now, when I truly am obese, except for the fact that I can't wear cool clothes any more and my knees are peeved at me, not much has changed in how I see myself. The universe has simply opened it's benificent arms and helped me unite my belief about myself with reality. Unfortunately.
But I digress. Eating was a criminal activity in my childhood. My mother was a pretty good cook. I think it was an area where she was able to express her love. She always prepared way too much and then watched every bite I took and made me feel bad for eating. I don't know if I was a glutton. I felt like one, though. I was not (I have to remind myself) obese as a child, as a young adult, or even into my 30s and 40s. Weight was always an issue. I was quite slim in my 20s and early 30s. I'm not sure when I began to gain the weight that shames me even in the privacy of the home I seldom venture out of. After I injured my legs it got worse. But again I digress. This subject sends me into a spiral of circular and insane thinking. Because along with feeling obese even when I wasn't, I was made to feel like a glutton. Hunger is normal but not in my brain. In my brain it's a criminal/sinful activity.
My mother didn't limit her assessment of my sins to just food. She grew up in a very abusive and profoundly destitute home, the 2nd oldest of 8 siblings. She was beaten. She was used as cheap labor. She was sent out to work at the age of 8. Perhaps worst of all, she was neglected in other ways so that she almost died on more than one occasion from medical neglect. She saw me as profoundly spoiled. That I had anything I think angered her on some level and that I sometimes wanted more ... well that was wickedness of the highest order. I grew up believing that wanting - that any kind of desire - was a form of gluttony. I've put a lot of work into shifting that belief. I still struggle with it, but I don't punish myself any more (not as often or as much anyway) when I buy something for myself or when something is given to me. Still, it was only two years ago that I caught myself worrying that my neighbors might hate me and think I was rich because UPS delivered a package to me... or because I got my house painted. I had to work through it - ask myself if I thought those kinds of things when they got deliveries - in order to grasp the utter insanity of my thinking.
So what is gluttony? Eating two pieces of pie? Wanting a new TV that you can't afford? Or is it bilking thousands of people out of billions of dollars. Or is it feeling entitled to a five million dollar bonus for screwing up the lives of half the human race and being baffled when people resent it. Realistically, I'd say it's those latter behaviors that are gluttony. But some days I'm not sure. How sad is that.
I'm just spewing out whatever comes off my fingers here and I'm not going to go back and proofread because if I do, I'll be humiliated and I won't post it.
The best and wisest pastor I ever encountered once had a conversation with me - or maybe it was a sermon he gave - about the meaning of sin. He defined it as "separation from God." I always thought that made more sense than all the nitpicking of petty crimes that so often engages the minds of religious people. I often think that our obsession with viewing ourselves as criminals is one of the things that TRULY separates us from God. God, to me, is pure Love. He/She/It could care less if I'm fat or even greedy or if I lose my temper when I'm tired. Even if I don't approve of or love myself... even if my mother didn't... God loves me all the time simply because that's who/what God is. Sins, I think, are a human invention. The only thing that's truly sinful in my view is being unloving, because being unloving disconnects you from LOVE (though even that doesn't disconnect LOVE from you).
And that's my rambling thoughts on gluttony and other semi-related stuff.
Happy Saturday. Eat hearty and be a glutton for the joy of living. I think God likes that. (Of course, I could be wrong.)