Yes hate is a strong word. And yes I know we aren’t supposed to use it. But I like to imagine myself as being a person who talks with intention, on purpose, full of honesty, and saying I hate lunch, well I can assure you that I mean it. Every bit of it. In every sense of the word. Because I can. Because lunch isn’t a person, and it doesn’t have feelings- and therefore can’t get them hurt- so I hate it. And have for some time now.

Because in junior high I hated eating lunch.

Lunch meant food and food meant fat. I was so consumed with the idea that if I ate I would magically gain two hundred pounds and if I didn’t I would lose fifty.

So I stopped eating lunch.

I said my farewell with the brown paper bag and told myself I was making a step in the right direction to have a positive body image. I was going to be prettier. I was going to be skinnier. I was going to be happier. It was the easiest goodbye I have ever said and for a while it felt really good.

Until it didn’t.

Until I realized I wasn’t the same person anymore. Because not eating is like not watering a plant (which I am sure might be a touchy subject considering the drought we are in, but it’s true). We think it will make us into something we currently “aren’t” and we are right. It makes us dead. It dries up our roots and slowly over time we wither away, from the inside out. And before we lose any weight we lose our happiness, our peace, our sense of security, our ability to enjoy getting together with people because it always happens. Around. Food.

And you never get pretty enough, skinny enough, or happy enough. It is never… enough.

And as the years passed I began to realize that food was not the problem, and even more importantly, the lack of it wasn’t the solution. And lunch began to be ok again… and then came the end of my sophomore year.

Because in high school I didn’t know where to sit with my lunch.

When you decide to really pursue God, really believe in Him, really follow Him, people aren’t always ready to come with you. As a sophomore I lost the majority of my friends and every time the lunch bell rang my heart sank. I knew what that bell meant. That bell meant waiting in line for food that I am sure was not that great for me but even more disheartening was the idea that after I had gotten my food I would have to walk to the back of campus to a choir room by myself to eat it.

I lost the table I sat at every day. I lost the idea of “knowing where I fit”. I lost the friends I thought I was SO CLOSE WITH. I lost the feeling of being wanted. I lost.

There were no calls. No catching up after classes. No invitations to special events. It was just the end, and I can tell you this- you know just between us and the world wide web-  I wasn’t ready for it to be the end.

So I anxiously waited for graduation, to go out into this big world and have purpose and a “place”. And I discovered something, I hated lunch then too.

Because as an adult I wondered how fast I could eat my lunch.

I mean seriously, you work from 10 to 4 and only get a 15 minute “break”… HELLO… that’s lunch! Shovel it in friend. Because no matter how long you work, if it isn’t 8 hours you ain’t getting any length of time that would allow for actual savoring of said food. So shovel.

Better yet- learn to eat, catch up on facebook, text a few friends, and finish any reading you needed to get done in a 15 minute window. Be busy, keep busy, that is the American way. And that multi-tasking skill will come in handy more times than you will know.

Because once you have kids, Oh Lord help us, once you have kids- it changes.

Because as a mom I sometimes can’t remember the last time I had lunch.

There will be days, even weeks that I am so busy that I skip meals all together. And then there are days with nothing on the to do list and these are the days that I remember the biggest reason why I hate lunch.

Because now it is so quiet my thoughts steal my appetite for lunch.

My kids are napping, my to-do list is a to-done list, and all I have left is that weird break that leaves me alone with the thoughts that have seemed to come back for round two.

It is such a strange feeling to be battling these same thoughts… again. To be confused on where I fit in a place I am so sure God led me to. To wonder if I am doing enough when I don’t even know that I have the time to be “doing” anymore.

This season, like my lunch plate, is full and I sometimes find myself just looking forward to it being over.

It is full of questions with little answers and I am reminded of that same girl all those years ago that would count down the minutes to “get through” lunch because when it ended… there was math class… and I knew exactly who I was and what I was supposed to do in math class. There were no feelings of being unwanted or inadequate, because I was built for Math! (Now Science, that is a different subject all together. Literally.)

But alas, here I am again finding myself just wanting to “get through” because I know when it ends so will the confusion. I will know who I am and where I fit. Just put your head down, Vanessa, and get through it.

And if we do that, if we close our eyes and ignore what is happening right in wait for it to be over, we might miss something. Like food. Glorious food. And of course things that actually make life important like the thousands of special memories yet to be made. And new friendships you never saw coming. And a new purpose you never imagined. And new dreams or ideas that could only be birthed through your pain.

Don’t close your eyes even if they are filling with tears, my friend. There is something you need to see. Because despite the thousand unanswered questions, God still has a plan for you. It may get lonely, it may get confusing but God is still in control. He hasn’t forgotten about you. He hasn’t given up on you.

Don’t lose heart.

Math class is coming soon, but you’ll need this lunch break to get you through.

Acts 2:24-28, MSG “Jesus, following the deliberate and well-thought-out plan of God, was betrayed by men who took the law into their own hands, and was handed over to you. And you pinned him to a cross and killed him. But God untied the death ropes and raised him up. Death was no match for him. David said it all: I saw God before me for all time. Nothing can shake me; he’s right by my side. I’m glad from the inside out, ecstatic; I’ve pitched my tent in the land of hope. I know you’ll never dump me in Hades; I’ll never even smell the stench of death. You’ve got my feet on the life-path, with your face shining sun-joy all around.