My Life in the Mirror: Women’s Conference Reaction Part 1

By Katie, 5:53 am

On Saturday I had the absolute pleasure of attending the annual women’s conference at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church. I had been looking forward to it for weeks, and it was a wonderful day of inspiration and self-discovery.

The theme of the conference was “Eat, Pray, Love – Your Journey with Jesus” (loosely inspired by the Elizabeth Gilbert book). Considering my history of food struggles, I was particularly excited for the first third of the day.

The speaker was a woman named Tracey Tiernan, a Christian radio personality and local celebrity of sorts. She is an incredibly engaging woman; it doesn’t matter if she’s speaking to an audience of 10 or 10,000, it feels like she’s talking directly to you.

(Source)

During the “Eat” talk, Tracey encouraged all of us to ask ourselves the question, What am I REALLY hungry for? Obviously I am no stranger to that question; I’ve written before about how asking myself what I really need is one of my most effective strategies for fending off the urge to overeat emotionally. But in those cases I tend to focus on the immediate – my answers are usually things like a hug, a few minutes of prayer or meditation, or maybe just a nap.

But Tracey encouraged me to think bigger, to ask myself what I really need on a grander scale. In the big scheme of my life, what am I really hungry for? What I am hungry for spiritually?

I came up with a couple of answers. I’m hungry to know God more, to feel more in tune with God’s spirit and will. I’m hungry to use my talents and abilities for good in this world. I’m hungry to use my own struggles as a channel of compassion for others. I’m hungry to live a life that more fully embodies the concepts of peace and balance.

Am I feeding myself what I need to satisfy those hungers?

I felt compelled to ask myself some rather tough questions, and I encourage you to consider posing similar ones to yourself (borrowed from Giordana Toccaceli).

  • Why am I spending more money on a gym membership than I am giving away to help the poor and needy of this world?
  • Why am I spending more time on a treadmill listening to pop music than I am reading the scriptures of my faith?
  • Which causes me more distress, the idea of gaining 10 pounds or the fact that millions of children are going hungry today?
  • What would happen if I took some of the time and effort I spend working on my own “stuff” and instead dedicated it to helping others with theirs?

I promise I wasn’t trying to give myself a guilt trip! But I truly believe that you can learn a lot about someone’s true values by looking at two things: how they spend their money and how they spend their time. And when I give my life a good, hard look in the mirror, neither my time nor my money is going in the right direction. It’s going to satisfy my immediate wants rather than my true spiritual needs.

I’m not saying I think it’s bad that I pay for a gym membership or listen to Britney Spears on my iPod (although many might disagree with that last one! ;-) ). But I spend $30 a month on a gym membership, $30 a month on clothes, $30 a month on dinners out…shouldn’t I be spending more than that on helping the poor? I spend 40-60 minutes a day exercising my body, and countless hours pursuing my career and my hobbies…shouldn’t I be spending more time with the God I believe in, exercising my spirit?

So I’ve come to this conclusion: it’s not enough just to ask myself what I really need when the urge to overeat hits. No, I need to be asking myself what I’m truly hungry for – on a spiritual level – each and every day. And I need to be spending more time, money, and energy on feeding myself that kind of food. Because that is how I am going to find the fulfillment I need while also being a blessing to those around me.

What are you truly hungry for, on a grand-scheme-of-things level?

AND

No worries if you’re not comfortable sharing specifics, but were you struck by any of the questions I asked myself above? Did any of them compel you to look at your own life in the mirror?

*There were also some points of Tracey’s talk that I strongly disagreed with, particularly in regards to disordered eating. I will be sharing my thoughts on that tomorrow, and I’d love to hear your opinions too!

10 Responses to “My Life in the Mirror: Women’s Conference Reaction Part 1”

  1. Becca says:

    This is so interesting. I often struggle to figure out what it is I should be doing, in order to feel that I’m contributing to society. We are in a lot of debt, and so things like gym membership, dining out and clothes are off the table at the moment while we pay things back. I am self-employed, and the bulk of my non-working time is spent trying to find additional clients, while looking after our puppy.

    Should money that currently goes to repay debts be used for charitable purposes? Should time spent building my business (thus decreasing our financial problems) be spent volunteering? In the future, I hope to be in a better position to give back, but that raises an ethical issue, as it’s almost like living on good deed credit. Procrastination is certainly not to be encouraged.

    I’m not really sure of an answer – just mulling it over.

    • Katie says:

      Interesting thoughts. I try to stay away from telling myself what I “should” be doing, but now that I’ve read your comment I see that I did that several times in this post!

      Perhaps you can try focusing less on what you “should” be doing, and focusing more on what you CAN do now that will benefit both yourself and those around you/people in need. It doesn’t have to be something giant, maybe just something small.

      Also, it’s entirely possible that building your business IS your way of helping others, depending on what your business is. I don’t think those two things are necessarily contradictory.

      What do you think?

      • Becca says:

        That’s an interesting idea. I’m an accountant, and I just consider that it’s such a non-vocational, non-creative job that there’s not much to do.

        However… I do the accounts for the local rugby club for free, and they run a great Sunday coaching session for lots of kids in the area, so I suppose it does some good. I guess that contacting local charities to do more of that sort of thing would be a good start!

  2. VERY TRUE about finding out someone’s values by how they spend their time and money!
    In the grand scheme of things I am truly hungry for helping my family fulfill their God-given destinies.
    We were put on this earth to be light and salt and be DIFFERENT than the rest of the world that is in darkness. My hunger is to nurture every opportunity to represent Christ.

    I think alot of American Christians (myself included) have the potential to become lazy. We are SO blessed and SO comfortable. When we get comfortable, we get complacent and narcissitic. We DO need to be reaching out to our communities more.
    We need to be reminded that this life is NOT about US, but Him!
    LOVE this post, girl! :)

  3. I can’t wait to read through the rest of your reflections on this! I would love to go to a conference like that one day.

    How we spend our time and money really are defining, huh? I know I have ways that I could improve and be more compassionate or put others’ needs above my own. Thanks, as always, for the daily dose of reflection. :)

  4. Katie – I am so grateful for this post. Wow.

    When I started blogging, I never considered one of huge things that resulted, and that is the fact that I felt *convicted* for how much of my life is focused on health. In fact, that’s one of the huge reasons I shifted my blog from Girl Meets Health to Girl Meets Life. I began asking myself, “who really CARES about health in the long run?? What purpose does it serve?!” Now, I haven’t given up my healthy habits, nor do I think that striving for a healthy lifestyle is bad in any way, shape, or form. But for me personally, I want to look back on my life and know that I did something of worth. I want my life to be one that glorifies God and leads people to him!!

    Gosh…I could go on. But for now I’ll just say THANK YOU for this. xoxoxo G

  5. i would say i’m very hungry for utter happiness in who i am and what i have right in this moment…it’s hard to not compare ourselves to others in body imagine, money, jobs, children, etc, and it’s something i’m really having to fight against right now!

  6. Sarah says:

    AWESOME post, Katie! I agree that money and time are truly telling. For me, I do spend some money on worthy efforts, but it’s become kind of an aside, I think. There are a few causes I’ve been wanting to spend more time and money (sometimes both) but I’ve been getting caught up in what’s RIGHT in front of me (which is usually ME) and forgetting what’s truly important (like the big picture of oh, hey, God made EVERYONE and maybe he would be pleased to see us all sharing our toys and otherwise resources with eachother). Thank you for kicking my butt today. I really appreciate it!

  7. Simply Life says:

    what a great way to put things into perspective of where we’re spending our time and money!

  8. [...] conference I attended. I talked about how inspired I was by the speaker’s message of spiritual hunger, and how I’m beginning to question how much my life truly reflects what I want it [...]

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