A biscuit almost destroyed my marriage. In my defense, it was not just any biscuit. It was a fluffy lard and butter biscuit at the H & H restaurant in Macon, Georgia.
To be clear, you don’t order steel-cut oatmeal with organic cranberries at the H & H. You don’t ask for almond milk in your coffee, and you do not request avocado toast with flax seeds. No, the H & H is known for Southern comfort food that would make your doctor go pale, including biscuits the size of a dinner plate. The best part? Every biscuit is named for a song by Allman Brothers — the famous rock band from Macon that frequented the restaurant. My husband Toby got the “Ramblin’ Man,” a giant biscuit loaded with brisket, BBQ sauce, egg, fried green tomato, and American cheese. I ordered the “Midnight Rider,” a biscuit with fried chicken, bacon jam, and pimento cheese.
I devoured my biscuit so fast that my stomach failed to register the mothership-sized blob of cheesy dough that had just landed in its grasp. Then, as I eyed Toby taking one of the last bites of his biscuit, I felt something strange happen. It was like a film came over my eyes and I went from seeing him as my beloved husband to seeing him as my mortal enemy. He was a man with a biscuit — a biscuit that I wanted.
Terrible thoughts flashed through my mind about how to get that biscuit, but just as I was about to commit a jail-able offense, the giant biscuit in my own stomach began to expand and I realized I wasn’t actually hungry at all. In fact, it was the opposite. I was utterly full. And right before my eyes, Toby transformed from my mortal enemy into my beloved husband.
Later, as I chastised myself for how close I had come to losing my marriage (and going to jail) over a biscuit, I realized that my behavior had not been so off-base. In fact, human beings engage in that kind of behavior every day. It could be battling over which child gets the most attention in a family, to fighting about who gets a raise at work. It could also be deciding whether to order something on the Home Shopping Network, then a warning notice pops up that says: “This item is in danger of selling out!” and you immediately buy the item, not because you truly want it, but because someone else was about to get it! (Of course, I’ve only heard about this from friends.)
When we perceive scarcity, we draw boundaries. When we feel fear, we circle the wagons. Why? Because they have something we want, or they want something we have. Like a man with a biscuit when you are hungry.
Olympic snowboarder Chloe Kim explained it best just last week. Right before her gold-medal-winning run, she tweeted that she hadn’t finished her breakfast and was “hangry.” A combination of “hungry” and “angry,” “hangry” captures that ill-tempered feeling that arises when your stomach feels empty and you start to see the world through a selfish, me-centric film.
We all know that feeling. When we receive a promotion, or have a newly improved 401K, or jettison that last five pounds, we feel emotionally full. And in that place of fullness, we tend to give a wide berth of empathy and acceptance to others. But here’s the problem. When those fleeting worldly fillers disappear, our patience wanes, a selfish film comes over our eyes, and we have terrible thoughts about those people.
It’s hard to love your neighbor when you feel empty or feel you are not enough. In short, it’s hard to love your neighbor when you’re “hangry.”
Before we let “hanger” destroy our lives and relationships, let’s take a moment to check in with ourselves to see if we are truly hungry. Scripture teaches that we are beloved children of God in whom God is well-pleased, that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, and that no one can separate us from the unconditional holy love that is our birthright. If we remember that, our hearts expand, and we realize that we are full. It’s then that the selfish, me-centric film lifts from our eyes, and our “enemies” morph back into our beloved brothers and sisters.
Will I still feel a twinge of envy when I see someone eating a giant biscuit loaded with brisket, BBQ sauce, egg, fried green tomato, and American cheese? Yup. But I also know that if I take a breath and remember how I’ve been fed — truly fed — then maybe, just maybe, I can get past the “hangry” and begin to love my neighbor as myself.
— A trial lawyer turned stand-up comedian and Baptist minister, Rev. Susan Sparks is a nationally known speaker, preacher and author specializing in the healing power of humor. Contact her through her email at email@example.com, or her website, www.SusanSparks.com