Fourth Meal, Mini Crock Pots, and Control

I first heard the phrase “fourth meal” from my pastor during a sermon when I was in college. He was talking about it in the context of being a college student himself and also 6’4″ (or more…I dunno, the guy was TALL) and being constantly hungry. He and his friends had the routine of going out for “fourth meal” around 8 or 9 pm because hunger.

Even though I couldn’t relate at the time, I thought it was hilarious. Fast forward nearly a decade later and I too have been eating fourth meal. I don’t know what it is, but lately I’ve been HUNGRY. It all started with a couple sleepless nights a few weeks ago, and at first I thought it was exhaustion manifesting as hunger. Since I trust my body’s hunger cues, it was no big deal to eat more, but I finally realized that as the days went by, a snack wasn’t cutting it and I really did just need “fourth meal.”

I think part of the reason for it is that I’ve been waking up earlier and eating breakfast right away. Now, when 9:30 am rolls around (my previous breakfast time) I’m already 3 hours past my first breakfast and ready for more. So, fourth meal it has been.

But just because “fourth meal” and I have become close friends, that doesn’t mean snacks are out of the question. Here’s a peek inside my desk drawer, which is well stocked with snacks, tea, and other essentials (read: chocolate).

Introducing: The Mini Crock

A coworker of mine showed me the mini crockpot he has, which he uses for meals at work. I thought it was adorable and added it to my Christmas list. So far, it’s been every bit as wonderful as I expected it to be. I simply pack my lunch, which can be anything from soup to chicken and rice, to leftover lasagne. Then, when I get to work, I plug it in and bam! Within a few hours, my food is the perfect temperature to eat a few bites between clients, put the lid back on, and trust that it isn’t going to grow any unwelcome microbes until the next time I need some food. I also don’t have to deal with microwaving my food, or worry about it potentially spilling on the commute back to my office from the microwave.

So far, I 10/10 recommend the mini crock.

Giving up on Control

I’ve been learning a lot over the past year that I’m not the one in control of my life. I think I brought this exact topic up multiple times throughout 2020, but let the repetition be a testimony to the fact that it’s learning not learned.

As an admitted control freak, it’s really hard for me when things don’t happen according to my timeline. I feel like once I’ve decided that I’m ready for something (i.e. a book deal, buying a new house, etc.) that it should just happen. I like when life is a simple, predictable equation (if you do x, the result will be y) even though very little in my experience of life gives evidence to support that worldview. The truth of the matter is that try as I may, I can’t control the outcome of tomorrow.

Over the course of 2020, I went through what I feel was the 5 stages of grief with regards to my sense of control in life. If I’m being honest, it was a real spiritual battle. The first 20 ish years of the new millennium were characterized by denial—I simply refused to acknowledge my own limitations and caused myself a lot of anxiety and frustration because of it. Starting around the spring (i.e. quarantine) that anxiety and frustration turned into anger. I was angry with God, blaming him for the struggles I was going through, all the while failing to recognize that my disappointments weren’t the result of him wanting to ‘punish’ me or see me suffer, though it felt like that. I believed, if God could change my circumstances, why wouldn’t He?

The irony of that questioning was that it was those very questions that posed a barrier to me coming to faith in the first place, as a teenager. At 16, I was frustrated with my life, refusing to believe that a good God would allow bad things to happen to me. After all, I was a “good person!” (lol)

But just as was true then, it’s true now that God isn’t the one that causes bad things to happen. We’re in the middle of a spiritual battle with a real enemy working against us. Meanwhile, God is advocating for our good, and using those experiences to shape us and teach us about himself. So, although the bad is happening separate from his own goodness, he is still in control over it and capable of using it for his own purposes.

It’s one thing to believe that’s true and another to BELIEVE that’s true.

My anger eventually fizzled to industry. Maybe I could convince God to work on my behalf if I promised him something in return. My prayers became very “God, if you__________, then I will ____________.” Groan. Friends, if you don’t already know from personal experience, that is not a good idea. Not only is God completely uninterested in our bargaining chips, but attempting to use them creates spiritual harm. See, faith isn’t transactional. It’s not “I want this, God do this…” Rather, it’s about a relationship that is two-sided. For example, my relationship with my husband doesn’t simply consist of asking each other for things. Sometimes we do that, but the majority of our interactions are without the hope of receiving anything for ourselves. If all we ever did was make demands of each other, we would feel empty pretty darn fast.

As I’m sure most of you can relate, 2020 brought a sense of depression. I’ll just leave that one there.

And finally, healing. Coming into 2021 felt like a breath of fresh air for me—a sense of hope. Looking back, I can see God’s timing and his wisdom in the way he orchestrated my life. I truly can see the goodness in everything that happened in my own life. (Please be aware, I am not referring to the tragedy of the pandemic and loss of life, but more to my own, personal experiences.) As cliché as it sounds, I wouldn’t change a thing, and everything that happened in 2020 has served to finally change my heart to see that being the one calling the shots isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be.

I hope that lesson sticks with me.

Weekly Word

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.Jeremiah 29:10Jeremiah 29Jeremiah 29:12 In Context Parallel Compare

Jeremiah 29:11

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