The Thanksgiving Conversation You Don’t Have to Have

Quiz: What is the theme for this week on the calendar?

Did you guess thankfulness? Officially, yes. But there’s an unofficial theme that tends to overtake that one.

Pilgrims? Nah.
Indians? Not quite.
Awkward moments with that cousin you only see once a year? Wrong again.

Turkey? Getting warmer.
Mashed potatoes? You’re on the right track!

For most of us the theme of the week, that thing that will be on our minds most often is . . . F-O-O-D! In fact, food seems to be the axis upon which this entire holiday rotates.

Taming the Tiger in the Box

I’ve heard food described as a tiger in a box. Three times a day we take it out and feed it and hope it stays under control. Thanksgiving is like an annual invitation to let the tiger run freely! He’s out of his box and ready for a three-day feast.

It’s because of that, that I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about food. Last year,  I told you how freaking out about food is an annual event at my house.

I wrote,

I love most of the traditions my family has. But I know there will most likely be more than food at our dining room table. There will be heaping portions of shame.

We will pass around insecurity.

Someone is sure to carry in self-doubt. Someone else will bring self-loathing. Someone else may bring full-on self-hatred.

And, of course, there will be fat jokes.

We will all talk about how we shouldn’t have eaten what we did and how we are determined to lose some pounds in the New Year. We will say, “I know I shouldn’t, but . . .” as we enjoy a slice of pie. We will call ourselves “chubby” and everyone will laugh, but there will be a part of each of us that would rather cry, or hide, or be someone else entirely.

You see, in my family, beauty can be one ugly subject. That tiger in the box had me at the throat in my twenties, when I developed a full-fledged eating disorder. But you don’t just wake up one morning and decide to stop eating.

Sometimes, our parents’ junk gets heaped into our laps. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

My struggle with food started when I was a little girl. At a very young age I learned that food was the enemy that would keep me from being beautiful. Do you know where I learned that lie? From my momma. She never said it to me that way, of course. In fact, she nudged me toward a healthy relationship with food, always encouraging me to eat good stuff like fruit and veggies. She told me I was beautiful and she meant it.

But, I watched her go on every diet you can imagine. I watched her make faces at herself in the mirror. I knew that she was insecure about her weight. That kind of insecurity tends to have a generational trickle down effect. Do you know where my momma learned to struggle with her beauty? From her momma (my grandma). Where did granny learn to struggle? From her momma (my great-grandma). I can see insecurity, weight issues, and a strained relationship with food on every branch of my family tree.

The Bible warns us this might happen.

“You show faithful love to thousands but lay the father’s sins on their sons’ laps after them, great and mighty God whose name is Yahweh of Hosts” (Jer. 32:18, HCSB).

Sometimes, our parents’ junk gets heaped into our laps. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

You (yes you!) Can Raise the Bar!

“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers and example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12).

You can change things! It doesn’t matter if you’re twelve or twenty-two (or somewhere in-between). You can set an example this year for the women at your Thanksgiving table. You can refuse to hand insecurity down to the next generation.

You don’t have to tie food to guilt and shame. You can celebrate the food God has placed on your Thanksgiving table (Matt. 6:11) and the fear and wonder with which He made you (Ps. 139:14).

But don’t stop there! Be the lion tamer for the other women in your family. Pray for them to see themselves as God sees them. If the conversation turns to guilt and shame over weight and food, lovingly point them to verses like these:

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matt. 6:25).

“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised” (Prov. 31:30).

“You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you” (Joel 2:26).

What is the legacy of beauty like in your family? What can you do to point the women you love toward God’s Truth on food? Leave me a comment below to tell me about it.

PS: I wrote a post on this topic just for your mommas here. Why don’t you read these posts together to open the dialogue about food and beauty?

PPS: Be sure to hop back on the blog tomorrow for a follow-up post, “What Does The Bible Say About Food?”

About Author

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. She is the author of many books and Bible studies including: 7 Feasts, Connected, Beautiful Encounters, and the My Name Is Erin series. She serves on the ministry team of Revive Our Hearts. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

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