I’ll never forget the first time I saw the medical disorder pica as a nurse. I was working for a pediatrician in a large office, and a young boy came in for an annual checkup. He was happy and playful, cute as a button, and accompanied by his attentive mother. During the initial assessment before the doctor’s exam, I informed the patient that we needed a drop of blood for routine testing. I pricked his finger, and as I collected the blood in the tube I noticed it looked more like diluted red Kool-Aid than nutrient-rich, life-sustaining blood. When I placed the sample on the lab equipment, the blood result revealed what I already knew: this child had pica.
Commonly caused by stress, nutritional deficiencies, or even pregnancy, pica is an eating disorder that involves craving and chewing substances that have no nutritional value. Many individuals with pica consume ice, clay, soil, paper, string, chalk or starch. Pica is a sign that the body is trying to correct a significant nutrient deficiency. Treating this deficiency with medication or vitamins often resolves the problem.
In the medical world, pica is not very common, but I wonder if it is quite prevalent in our spiritual lives.
Spiritual pica occurs when we consume in large quantities that which was never meant to be ingested into our souls. It can also occur when we replace true spiritual food with worldly advice. Anytime we replace spiritual growth with something less nourishing, we are exchanging an opportunity to grow in our faith with a watered-down, nutrient-deficient worldly offering.
Some symptoms of spiritual pica could include quickly running to chat with friends about a problem instead of first spending time in prayer, reading or scrolling instead of opening the Bible, opting to sleep in rather than attending church, or refusing to give generously and clinging tightly to funds instead.
Friends are wonderful, phones and technology are a gift, sleep is precious, and a savings account is wise. However, when these things are all that fill our souls, we will be malnourished, weak, poor, and starved. We need genuine spiritual food, nourishment for our souls, and rich, life-giving truths from God’s Word.
The good news of the gospel is that spiritual pica is easily treated. Open your Bible and read it!
Don’t know where to start? Begin in the Psalms, or John, or James. Pray and ask God to open your eyes to the truths of His promises, not the false hope the world offers. Be honest with God that it’s sometimes easier and more natural for us to open our phone than our Bible. Ask God to give you a craving and an insatiable desire for His Word. Watch Grace’s Online Worship Experience each week, and plan to attend in-person as soon as we’re able. Connect with others via social media on the Grace Facebook Groups or other platforms. Read through a book of the Bible with friends. Join a semester-based Bible study when they re-open at Grace. Find a Grace Community.
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple (Psalm 19:7).
The Lord will always lead you, satisfy you in a parched land, and strengthen your bones. You will be like a watered garden and like a spring whose water never runs dry (Isaiah 58:11).
My lips will glorify you because your faithful love is better than life. So I will bless you as long as I live; at your name, I will lift up my hands. You satisfy me as with rich food; my mouth will praise you with joyful lips (Psalm 63:3-5).
Stop seeking spiritual sustenance from worldly sources. Don’t let your spiritual blood be diluted like watered-down red Kool-Aid. Take a next step today to let your soul be satisfied with the rich, life-giving words of God and move from spiritual pica to spiritual health.