Let Us Partake
By Carolyn Allen

Is there any denying the calamity of the times?  World affairs, the recent hurricanes, the economy, the confusing choices of the upcoming presidential election, the worldly media standards that define the times and the overabundance of too much stuff, paper and clutter in the stores and around our homes bring stress (and often despair) that fuels our desire to turn to food for comfort. 

The first response to our first cries at birth and early infancy was food, and it may seem with the conditions listed above that that is still a pretty good answer. 

 

The truth, however is that food only solves one problem:  hunger. Food can never protect nor heal us for it is simply food, not medicine or God because:

  • The hurt will still be there after the food has been eaten;
  • Eating fills your stomach, not your heart or your life;
  • After overeating there are now three problems:  1) the one you ate to run from; 2) your physical discomfort; and 3) the guilt/frustration and disappointment with yourself for turning to food again;
  • No matter how much you eat or for how long, the feelings and reality will return; and
  • Food and eating will never make illness, rejection, sadness, loneliness or fears of any kind go away.

Of course, the right food, the desire to eat it, and an appropriate healthy weight IS the answer to cope with the signs of the times.  Today’s weight loss made easy trick is a tool that you already have in your arsenal.  There is no need to purchase any thing, if you do not have one at home, simply use one at the church, where they abound.  Of what am I speaking?  The hymnbook.

On the inside cover is a comforting message from the First Presidency, one that far surpasses any kind of ice cream or gooey macaroni and cheese:

“The hymns can greatly benefit us as individuals.  They lift our spirits, give us courage, and move us to righteous action.  They fill our souls with heavenly thoughts and bring us a spirit of peace.

Hymns can also help us withstand the temptations of the adversary.  We encourage you to memorize your favorite hymns.  Then, if unworthy thoughts enter your mind, sing a hymn to yourself, crowding out the evil with the good. 

“Let us use the hymns to invite the Spirit of the Lord into our homes and our lives.  Let us memorize and ponder them, recite and sing them and partake of their spiritual nourishment .  Know that the song of the righteous is a prayer unto our Father in Heaven and it shall be answered with a blessing upon your head.”

Did you read that?  “Partake of their spiritual nourishment!”  That means feast!  Grab your knife and fork and dig into this delicious treat:

Did You Think To Pray
Hymn No. 140
Text:  Mary Pepper Kidder, Music: William O Perkins

This is a standard 19th century hymn and was written by one who knew trials well. 

Kidder was blinded as a teenager, but fortunately for hymn lovers, had her sight restored after a few years.  She and several other poetesses wrote a number of hymns that are still published in Christian hymnals.

Ere you left your room this morning, Did you think to pray?
(A prayer in the morning is an opportunity to commit to the Lord and mentally outline a healthy eating day)

In the name of Christ our Savior, Did you sue for loving favor, as a shield today
(To sue means to request a redress of grievances or recovery of a right We can ask that the right foods will be delicious and appealing, and the artificial pleasures of the wrong foods will be exposed and mitigated.  In a world where food is advertised as “the way to make us smile” we need all the help we can get in reclaiming our right to see healthy food in smart portions as a joy).

O how praying rests the weary! Prayer will change the night to day.
( Is there a better word than “weary” to describe those of us who struggle in a food-filled world
It is helpful to remember other personally answered prayers to lift your spirits!)
So when life seems dark and dreary, Don’t forget to pray.

Refrain

When your heart was filled with anger, Did you think to pray?
(How many times have we turned to food when we were upset?  Once again, food solves only one problem:  hunger! Pray and sing while you walk briskly to burn off negative feelings and stress – and some calories too!s)

Did you plead for grace, my brother, That you might forgive another, Who had crossed your way?
(Here’s a great trick: Close your eyes.  Deeply Inhale to the count of three, then hold while saying to yourself, Heavenly Father: Please grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”  Then exhale, and repeat three times.”

Refrain

When sore trials came upon you, Did you think to pray?
(When we take the sacrament, we eat and drink in remembrance of promises made that in order that we might always have his spirit – is this not a constant prayer and companionship?

When your soul was bowed in sorrow, Balm of Gilead did you borrow
At the gates of day? 

(Balm of Gilead is an aromatic gum or spice used for healing wounds.  This tells us that we can actually ask for the symbolic healing of non-physical hurts and pains, the mental and spiritual sorrows that we all face which are both personal and signs of the times.  Once again, food is not the answer, but a soothing balm is!)

With the words of the latter day prophets that come at General Conference time, and the bliss that comes from the inspired music between their messages, we can further bolster our spirits and desire for healthy choices. 

Before, during and after, however, we can turn to again in the hymnals, for all the nourishment we need to strengthen our desire to be wise stewards of our earthly bodies.

Come on, everybody!  Dig in!  What a feast for the soul that will lead to a feast of healthy choices for our bodies.