I returned to work today and, without thinking, put two slices of bread in the toaster as part of my morning routine. I love toast. In fact I love all things bread. I could live off bread. And cheese. And er….Diet Coke.
Maybe it is because I am Northern Irish but I prefer plain food. I am not a fussy eater and will eat most things set down in front of me. Apart from Brussel Sprouts. Euuuurggghhhh! I hate Brussel Sprouts. They are the one food I cannot have on my Christmas dinner plate. And people who eat them the other 364 days of the year are just plain weird.
No the plainer the better as far as I’m concerned. Take me to an Italian restaurant and I will order pasta. Take me to an Indian or Thai restaurant and I will flee. African eateries are also a firm no-no after an unfortunate episode in Djbouti involving some Yemeni fish which I care not to dwell on. Other than to say the aftermath has scarred me for life.
It is a running joke in our household that if we order a Chinese takeaway I will order a bag of chips. Or at my most adventurous the most basic of curries. And a bag of chips. I buy running magazines that advocate all kinds of super food based pre-race meals which boost your stamina and strength. I invariably have some toast with a side of jelly babies. And hope for the best.
I have always been this way. It is just me. Fionnuala is a fantastic, creative cook. But she knows my culinary limitations. I am not a foodie. She is teaching me to cook (yes I know I owe you a dinner!) but again they are the most basic of recipes. It is no coincidence that one of Hannah’s earliest memories is of me almost burning the house down while trying to cook for the kids. An episode which still embarrasses and shames me.
I often wonder then why I could never be satisfied with plain living. Taking pleasure in the simple things. Being happy with my lot in life. Loving wife, three great kids and a decent job that affords us a comfortable lifestyle. Reading my books, watching my teams and running my runs. But, no, I was never satisfied and always searching for more to feed my ravenous ego. More followers on Twitter, more crazy and unsuitable friends, more alcohol fuelled evenings. The plain life was never enough.
I know that eating foods you are unaccustomed to can lead to all sorts of digestive issues. I refer you back to the Djbouti affair. But living the lifestyle I was only temporarily fixed the deep insecurities within me. And ultimately led to deeper depression, appalling life choices and a seemingly bottomless pit that try as I might I could not scramble out of.
Jesus advocated the simple things in life. He loved his food and hanging out with his closest friends. He was no prude and enjoyed a party as much as the next man. But he was content leading a humble, prayerful life despite the pandemonium that surrounded him during his ministry. He expounded mind blowing, revolutionary thinking in simple parables that the people could understand. He broke down his message to the simplest components parts. Love God, love your fellow man and, in doing so, learn to love yourself.
I crave the simpler life as a follower of Jesus. I crave a life of prayer, study, worship and service. It is tantalisingly close at times but at other times a universe away. But I am trying. Always trying.
I do not however crave Yemeni fish and Brussel Sprouts.
Mark 12:30-31 – ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.’
What food can you not stomach?
Have you ever had the ‘Yemeni fish’ experience?
Do you seek to live a simpler life. If so, how?