I’ve been asked by many alumni and other friends, “So, how’s retirement life going?” Fair question. My answer usually runs along the line of “Well, the pandemic has kind of messed it up a bit, but it’s nice to NOT have to follow a strict schedule and attend meetings. So, life is pretty good. Besides, I get to be with my sweetie a lot more!”

Yet over the last couple of years I’ve become aware of a character trait that went mostly unnoticed in my busier times of life. There’s probably a support organization out there for people like me. At the first meeting I would stand up and say, “Hi. My name is Mick, and I’m a nibbler.” That’s right. I snack. I graze.

And that’s why I’ve gained a few Covid pounds over the last couple of years. We keep healthy foods around the house, but not being on the move so much — in class or handling administrative details — it’s been easier for me to pick up little tidbits from the refrigerator or cupboard and more frequently enjoy the pleasurable tastes our God has created, like Nacho Cheese Doritos.

This acknowledgement has forced me to admit my spiritual growth is often hampered by a tendency to nibble things that detract me from fully embracing the joy of His presence. Instead of sinning boldly, I’m more likely to just snack a bit here and there on worldly desires or attitudes, hampering my progress in the faith. A few thoughts:

Most of us should admit we are nibblers. According to my extensive web research (just done a minute ago), Pennsylvania ranks as the top snack food producer in the United States. Our fellow-Americans have made cookies the most popular snack food in the nation, with potato chips coming in a close second. Personally, I don’t see a big problem with snacking. Nibbles are satisfying, and can be seen as a way to ingest food in a more gradual manner, which is probably good for us.

The concern is that my snacking is often mindless. I crave; therefore I munch. I should be more disciplined in my foraging. Thinking ahead would be nice. “How many calories are in this thing?” “How long will it take to work off the weight gain?” “Is this healthy for me?” So go ahead. Admit it. Join me at Nibblers Anonymous.

What we nibble on is significant. There are healthy items on my goodies list. Pickles, apples, bananas, olives, tomatoes. There are other items that shall not touch my lips (I speak of kale, for one). What we snack on makes a difference in our health and wellbeing, for sure.

This lesson came to me thanks to our neighborhood wildlife. I noticed one morning that several of our micro sprayer irrigation tips were snipped off. Turns out the adolescent offspring of our resident squirrel couple were using them as chew toys. At 50 cents a pop, I was not amused. Again, after extensive web research, I found a recipe for pepper tea that when sprayed on the tips, makes them teethe elsewhere. So far so good.

Their nibbling was destructive, and so is mine sometimes. We all know how easy it is to access inappropriate material on the internet, and that’s a nibble opportunity that requires the serious discipline of practicing the presence of Christ. Other tasty items can include social media chat streams, where things are said and opinions offered that are anything but edifying. I even find that sampling the news can have a negative effect on my joy as a Christ follower. It’s one thing to be aware of the world around us, but quite another to continually be lured into reading bits and pieces of biased, tainted, and sensationalized information parading as news.

Why we nibble needs understanding. I like food. We all do. How good is the Lord to give us a sense of taste, and then provide a myriad of flavors to enjoy! We nibble because we like this stuff, and it nourishes our bodies — mostly. But there may be other motivations that are not so healthy for us. Could it be that frequent perusing of online shopping sites signals a lack of contentment? Is materialism sneaking into our thoughts, and our hearts? Do we demonstrate a lack of contentment with the blessings God has given us by perusing things that offer a fantasy world where unhealthy desires are temporarily quenched?

The Lord has shown me harmful nibbling stems from a lack of trust that he is a Father who knows what is best for me and freely gives it. He has blessed me with an amazing life full of his riches in every respect. How can I be ungrateful to him by snacking on earthly promises of the so-called good life that do not satisfy? My mind goes to Paul’s words to Timothy as he instructs his son in the faith on how to minister to those (we?) who have so much in this world:

“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.”

We nibble. What we snack on and why we snack are questions we must honestly address. I trust this bit of rambling brings a smile, or even a bit of conviction today. Now, where did I put those Doritos!