Friday, July 2, 2010

The Bigger Picture: I'm cranky because I'm hungry

I've noticed the meltdowns are a whole lot hotter at our house when my boys are hungry.

Sometimes none of us realize that their hunger manifests itself in general crankiness and whining that drives me to run for the front door, much like Heather today, and search for just a few minutes of solitude, an escape from the noise.

When I finally realize it's as easy as giving them a snack, something to fill up their stomachs and mellow their hunger, I breath a sigh of relief and load their little hands up with nutritious, satiating foods like apples and cheese instead of candy and cookies. I don't want them to sugar buzz and then crash and burn all over again, you know.

And the meltdowns quickly mellow, like a pot of boiling water, from large, bursting water bubbles to a gentle simmer and finally to cool, still water.

You know, I'm a lot like my boys.

I have moments where I just totally lose my cool and become completely irrational, groaning, stomping and throwing a general unattractive adult temper tantrum in the face of minor inconveniences and offenses.

Sometimes I lose it when the whining persists; sometimes the things that send me into a fury of grumbling are as simple as picking up yet another dirty dish from the living room or finding half-full-of-milk cereal bowls inches away from an empty dishwasher.

I didn't realize it until this morning, but, my meltdowns are a whole lot hotter when I'm hungry, too. In these moments, I'm cranky because I'm hungry. I'm not physically hungry, like my boys; rather my soul is hungry; it's growling for spiritual food.

As I was reading a chapter on satisfaction in Beth Moore's book, Breaking Free {which I'm reading with my good friend Stephanie, who is such an encouragement and blessing. Do you know her?}, I had this epiphany, lovingly handed to me in just a few simple, yet so complex paragraphs.

Moore says: "We can learn several truths about satisfied souls by drawing parallels between the soul and the physical body ....The soul can manifest physical symptoms of need. I like to think of it this way: Just like my stomach growls when I'm hungry for physical food, my spirit tends to growl when I'm in need of spiritual food."

When I'm snapping at my kids, barking at my husband, stomping my feet over life's spilled milk, I need to do the same thing for my soul that I do for my kids when their bellies are hungry: I need to feed it.

For me, I feed my soul in so many ways: reading God's Word, praying, spending moments in solitude and silence, writing here in this space about the ideas He's layed on my heart, creating.

Of course, I'm filled the most and am the most satiated when I'm finding my fulfillment, my satisfaction in Him. But, admittedly, I also feed my soul by tending to the desires He's laid on my heart. Writing, painting, photographing, in short, creating, also feeds my soul.

This ephiphany, for me, was so freeing of the guilt that ususally attaches itself to me after I've had a hot temper tantrum.

I'm not a bad mom.

I'm not failing.

I'm just hungry. And in my quest to feed everyone else, I've forgotten or neglected to feed myself.

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake." Psalm 23

So when your spirit grumbles, what do you do? What feeds your soul? And does what your feeding it fuel you for an entire day or does it, like candy, cause you to go strong for an hour and then crash from the sugar buzz?


  1. I love the metaphor you used for your need for spirituality in your life. Moments you need to connect with a being much larger and higher than yourself.

    I am not religious but I get that, I really do. I find that when I've spent all of my energy feeding everyone's needs but my own, I am more critical of others and myself, less patient and quicker to anger. And so I take the time to unwind, feed my own soul with nourishment in the form of a book, my writing/reflection and music that sings specifically to me, and I'm all good again.

    Ready for the next brutal yet fulfilling round of motherhood. :)

  2. 1. Yes, a thousand times yes!

    2. LOVE Beth Moore!

    3. I'm sometimes disappointed in myself that by now, at the age of 34, I am not more disciplined in carving out time with God. Yet I do not desire a stale, habitual, emotionless rote reading of his Word either. My problem is I often think I've got things under control. And I so don't. I desperately need Him every moment. And when I fail, His love compels me, draws me to Him, and I am filled.

    4. Thanks for the link!

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  4. Sometimes it has to start with music. There is something about music, especially that which is deep in scripture, that begins to take away the growl. It reminds me of what I need, Him!

    Then I take some time to sit, think, read my Bible and ultimately pray.

    I graze in Him all day. If I have learned anything through this grief it is that I need everything. Not just when it gets yucky or I need to make a decision but even in the mundane.

    Lately writing has been healing and soul feeding as well.

  5. Well you KNOW this post hit a big fat home run for me, H! This is so, SOOOOO completely true. And today I can feel it's truthfulness more than ever. Yesterday was bad...but I fed the beast and today is a whole. new. day. Thank you for the reminder of the other things I need to feed my soul in addition to all the creative stuff! xo {love you sooo much!}

  6. I should probably book mark this one! My hubby constantly reminds me I am not a bad mom. I need to feed myself also!

  7. Oh...and I should not read posts and wait to comment later because I forget to say things...

    I wanted to add that I think the quality of our "food" is proportional to our level of satisfaction. Like if we're picking at junk food all day we won't be as nourished as if we sit down to a full and healthy meal!

  8. Very good words...This hit home with me, I have not been feeding myself very much lately. Thank you for reminding me of this! Great verse!

  9. Wonderful post. I play my harp, read great books and take pictures to feed my soul. If I am really cranky Money Pit or Elf usually will get me giggling. :) Tam

  10. So true! I was at that point yesterday when I said to my husband I dont' care what you do but if I don't get an hour to go upstairs and workout and take a shower I am going to blow!

    We are always taking care of everyone else it's so easy to forget to take care of ourself, in whatever way that is!

  11. Exactly what I needed to hear. So true. Thank you!

  12. Love me some Beth! Isn't it aggravating that we seem to always slide into the guilt trip of being a bad mom and failing. She hits this point again in her new book So Long Insecurity.
    Thanks for writing this. Glad I am not alone in that struggle for time to feed myself.
    Even when I have had a great breakfast on His Word, sometimes I still need a few snacks during the day.

  13. How did I miss your post?? Yikes... my poor brain.
    I'll have to get my hands on that book.
    YES. Hunger = crankiness. In AA, there's a list of things you should stay away from. I think Hunger is one of them (as is being over tired, lonely, etc...) and it's such an applicable word... so many uses and ways that you can be hungry. Hungry for time and hungry for space and quiet. Hungry for spirituality is huge.
    Rambling... but just know I loved this. LOVED.

  14. I've been meaning to pick up that book. And what you've said, so true.


  15. Oh my goodness, I ADORE this post, adore because it speaks to me intensely. I didn't know this was happening to me for so long, that I was negelecting my soul, literally for years. It's slowly unfurling now, I'm exploring ways to let it out, and so I understand completely. So beautiful, thank you Hyacynth.

  16. I can relate to this. It's so important to feed our spirits, but easy to forget to do so, especially if we don't recognize those spiritual hunger pangs.

  17. Oh I relate to this so much. Both the cranky kids when they are hungry, and my own spiritual hunger making things worse as well. Thanks for the reminder.

  18. "I'm not a bad mom.

    I'm not failing.

    I'm just hungry. And in my quest to feed everyone else, I've forgotten or neglected to feed myself."

    so much Truth here, and grace. i love it, and i wish i didn't identify so much.

    to staying fed and fewer tantrums in '11:)


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