i used to…

… be a health food nut.

another-summer-dinner-2i bought only organic grains and vegetables and locally raised meats. i never used sugar or caffeine. i purchased the best quality oils and spices and ingredients i could. whole grains all the time.  and i kept track of how many servings of dairy i’d already had so that i could keep it in check. and i ate meat only 1 or 2 times per week. i took vitamins. i planned meals that included the entire rainbow of colored produce.

and all of this is fine. those are healthy choices, choices that honor the body God created for me to live in.

but see, it became a bit like religion to me. it was a way to stay clean, to be pure. there was a certain degree of self-satisfaction in living up to all these ideals, even if it meant my grocery bill was astronomically high for a single young women with no family to feed, even if it meant i couldn’t enjoy fellowship over foods that didn’t meet my stringent criteria. there was lots of low-grade anxiety around it, too, as i would scan ingredients lists and refuse things that didn’t measure up, which i’m sure sometimes caused offense to other people. and if i ever did “cheat,” i’d feel so anxious that i probably made myself sick.

then God moved me to the Boiler Room. suddenly i was surrounded my homeless folks who couldn’t be so picky about food even if they wanted to be (they didn’t). i tried to cook my special, nutritionally healing foods for them and they would choke down a few bites, then tease me about eating nuts and berries while turning down seconds. folks donated food to us often, so that we could feed ourselves (we didn’t have paying jobs) and the recovering addicts who lived with us. they donated a lot of cakes. there was a LOT of coffee. and my habits couldn’t be kept up in this environment. i felt a little embarrassed to be so concerned about dietary purity when suddenly i personally knew so many people who had to eat whatever they could get. i started to see that my eating habits were sometimes keeping me from connecting with other people. i started to see that i was finding solace in food instead of in Jesus’s sufficiency.

the way that i was eating… it had just gotten…out of order.

this area of food was one of the first places where i experienced a parenting technique i’ve experienced with Papa many times since: He takes something away for a while so that He can give it back to me, this time rightly ordered.

He has done this with big things like marriage (or the hope thereof), where i lived, or my career, and smaller things like the way that i eat or my photography hobby.

He takes it away and at first blush it seems so unkind, as if He’s some cosmic spoil-sport. it’s only in hindsight that i can see how He wanted me to have the good gift, but He wanted me to have it in a way that would optimize my ability to healthfully enjoy it, in a state of freedom! He had to re-order it so that my heart would delight first in Him, which is where true joy lies.

things WILL get out-of-order in our hearts. it’s the human condition. as we recently discussed at Mission Church, “the human heart is an idol factory” (Tim Keller). therefore, one of my favorite prayers to pray these days is, “rightly order this thing in me, God.”

i’m happy to live a season or two (or three!) without something that i love in order to have it put back in order by Him. He always returns it to us in better condition than it was in when He took it from our hands.

what is something you have experienced God re-ordering in your own life?


ps: i’m still a bit of a health food nut but there’s been a deep release of up-tightness about it. i’m able to enjoy foods that previously seemed too naughty/disgusting to consider consuming before. i eat sugar and i drink coffee. i also love quinoa vegetable soup and sautéed greens. all things in moderation!


One thought on “i used to…

  1. so true!
    i used to….. be an artist.
    i used to……be a dancer.
    i used to……identify myself by my intelligence compared to others.
    i used to……worry about being beautiful.
    i used to……not eat sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and was even a raw foodist for a while.

    and God took them all away from me. He promised me if i gave them up to Him, He’d return them in good time, and even better. Granted, it was a fast He called me to when i got off sugar/caffeine/alcohol for YEARS. But He also calls me off fasts.

    so i bought a giant bag of sugar cause guess what i bring to as many events as possible? a cake. since we’re so gluten-free (and i’m even avoiding going to our church small group b/c every week they have spaghetti and bread and i get sick from just being around wheat/gluten which is so hard) i bring treats. i could bring soup (and do a lot) but i also bring treats, b/c enjoying things and celebrating together is very very important.

    we had another family staying w/ us when the bag of sugar arrived. plain white sugar, b/c it was a gift, and i didn’t want to demand organic turbanido sugar from someone being so generous w/ me. and the wife was floored i had a big bag of white sugar in my house. i felt HORRIBLE- judged, guilty, impure, etc. but then i told her- i’m making gallons of apple butter to share from the tree in our yard, cakes for friends, a gluten-free wedding cake in Nov, and it’s not impure to simplify and sometimes make the less healthy choice.

    and i had to let go of not being ‘pure’ or ‘healthy’ enough for everyone else. I’m being obedient. i’m not called to be perfect by anyone else’s standards (or my own) which we all know will fall apart.

    God reordered so much of me i can’t remember it all!!! My kids are human, not perfect, and i’m not a sweet gentle quiet mother who never raises her voice (i tried, i almost exploded b/c the greek in my is waaaaaay too loud!) and only says nice things to her kids and friends. I’m me- i say totally odd things, and am honest and direct w/ my kids, and sometimes yell and threaten defenestration. But we dance a lot, we play, we sing, we climb apple trees and throw them at each other, we hug and kiss and snuggle and read George MacDonald at night. I let my kids get scared and ask big questions, and i give them real answers. so far, it’s quite an adventure!

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