What We’re Really Hungry For :: by Emily T. Wierenga

Today I’m welcoming author Emily T. Weirenga to share from her new book, Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look. I met Emily for the first time last year and the first word that came to mind was gentle. Hers is a gentle, kind soul. Read her words and see what I mean.

atlas girl

We were newlyweds.

I was anorexic.

Trent came home one day to find me crying on the couch about the living room—about how off-kilter and ugly it looked with our second-hand furniture—and I hadn’t eaten since the night before.

He put his arms around me. “Let me make you supper,” he said—this farm-boy I’d met in Bible School, who drove a car he called The Beast and volunteered at kids club.

I nodded, kissed him. Grabbed a bag of marshmallows and headed into the office to paint at my easel.

Half an hour later Trent called me for supper. He had made burgers, corn on the cob, and “fancy” salad (which is what he calls salad with grated carrots, cheese, onions, bacon and croutons).

I emerged from the office, my mouth white, the marshmallow bag empty. I sat down at the table, looked at the plate full of food, and said, “I’m not hungry.”

I don’t know why he didn’t leave me then and there.

I’d been so hungry I’d stuffed myself with marshmallows, instead of waiting half an hour for food that would sustain me. All I could hear was the scratch of Trent’s fork on his plate as he ate.

It was the beginning of a three-year relapse into anorexia which would nearly wreck our marriage, and it wasn’t until we left our jobs and moved to Korea that I would begin to eat three meals a day, again.

Because sometimes it takes moving to another country to see what you have right in front of you.

I’m better now. I’m eating now—I never skip a meal, and I have two little boys whom doctors said I’d never be able to have, because of the damage anorexia did on my body.

And I’m wondering how many of us settle for the marshmallows when what we’re really hungry for is food that will last?

How many of us, sisters, sit down with a pint of ice cream after a stressful day, or binge on Oreos after the kids go to bed? How many of us try diet after diet but end up filling on junk because we’re just so hungry?

I think of Jesus at the well, with the Samaritan woman. How he asked her for water—but then offered her Living Water in return. He offers us Living Bread—his body.

Because this is what we’re hungry for, isn’t it?

A love so deep and long and wide and high it fills every crevice of our souls; a kind of love that would die for us, a kind that sings over us, a kind that walks through fire with us?

We are born longing for the kind of affection only a divine being can offer. We are born aching for the kind of fullness which comes from an everlasting love.

But it’s not a bag of marshmallows. It’s not fast fame or fleeting praise or accolades.

No, it’s a slow cooked meal and we need to wait, to be patient, as this is the kind of love prepared by a gentle pair of hands which feeds our soul.

Trent still makes me fancy salads. He still makes burgers and corn on the cob and I no longer eat marshmallows. Because I’ve tasted real food and there’s no turning back.

There’s no turning back from love.

All proceeds from Atlas Girl will go towards Emily’s non-profit, The Lulu Tree. The Lulu Tree is dedicated to preventing tomorrow’s orphans by equipping today’s mothers. It is a grassroots organization bringing healing and hope to women and children in the slums of Uganda through the arts, community, and the gospel.

emily wierengaEmily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, blogger, commissioned artist and columnist, as well as the author of five books including the memoir, Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look.

She lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and two sons. For more info, please visit www.emilywierenga.com.



  1. says

    So good to read about a subject that leaves us uncertain and shaky. We talk about loving our bodies, so important, acceptance, the easier things to discuss. Necessary too. But there’s the other side, the other extremes from eating disorders and yes, just filling ourselves with the wrong things when what needs filling is our hearts and only the love of Jesus can do that. Thank you.

  2. says

    I loved your book, Emily. I just finished it last week. I couldn’t put it down, I think I read it in just a few days. The language was just beautiful in it. I can’t wait to read more of your books.
    Sarah M
    PS-If you click the link under my name (“July Reads”) you’ll see a review I did of Atlas Girl.

    • says

      Sarah, I just stopped by your blog–SO touched by your review sister. And so grateful it kept you glued to your seat. It’s always been a dream of mine to write a book that does that :) Bless you, e.

  3. says

    This is beautiful Emily. I too once had an unhealthy relationship with food, and it encompasses so much deeper needs within us than just our eating behavior and health. I’m going to add this book to my summer reading list for sure. Thank you for sharing. xx

  4. maria says

    SO nice to find you here, Emily, at another of my favorite blogs!! As always I enjoyed reading the words you write – they just flow off the screen and into my heart! Beautiful! And definitely not junk food, but good nutrition for the soul. Why does it often take us so long to find the true meaning of the Bread of Life, even when we have heard about it since we are young!! And then I still need so many reminders. Life is hard and so there are reminders and even in the beautiful there too are reminders! Thank you for this one!!

  5. says

    A very sad story with a ending of hope. It could be other situations but ignore the best for crummy can make me, us sad and somehow we seem powerless to stop. Then I, we humble oursleves before God and change even if it is slow and painful. Thank you for sharing.

  6. says

    I finished Emily’s book yesterday. Every word and every idea touched me. The writing was beautiful. Her honesty about her struggles and triumphs inspire me to be like Emily and her dad, “…to stop guarding [my] heart and to start letting life sing to [me[. To be vulnerable, and it’s only in being vulnerable that we can be fully loved.” (page 266)

  7. says

    Your story is what made me believe that I really could have anorexia despite being in my 30s and married with children. When I would barely eat anything all day and then have a ‘normal’ dinner with my husband – and you said the exact same thing in your other book. Facing all the lies I’d told myself was so hard, but was the final thing holding me back from leaning entirely on God. Thank you for your honesty and like Emily says, the gentleness of how you tell your story that finally stopped me hiding from the truth.

  8. says

    Emily W – As always, so beautiful friend. May we never seek empty calories again when we hunger for soul filling sustenance. Although, if you want to join me and share some sugar and fellowship, that’s a whole different story!

    Emily F – Thank you for the beauty you share in words and art. Thank you for sharing the beauty of others in your space well.


  9. says

    I love this. It reminds me of my church, before we do the Eucharist, the priest says to take Jesus and feast on Him in our hearts. I love the idea of feasting – getting our joyous fill of God. The one thing that we can have as much as we want of that will truly satisfy and leave no regrets. Such a good things, whether you’re struggling with over or under eating.

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