Monday, May 30, 2016

On the First Year, OR, God's Providence

I recently read Kevin DeYoung's "Me, The Lord, Pizza, and Celiac Disease." The blog post was about his first week going gluten-free. It brought back a lot of things to my mind. It was only a year ago that I myself was 'forced' into a radical diet change of my own. I am gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free. With a change that radical comes two things: a big sense of loss and ongoing waves of guilt.

Loss because it feels like your life is initially being turned upside-down and ripped apart. Loss because it is a forever-and-ever change. The list of foods that I can never have again--at least on this side of eternity--are too many to count. Also one never quite realizes--at least I'd never realized--how interconnected food is with socializing. One gets a sense of it when dieting, of course. But there's always a choice: to cheat or not to cheat. When your very health depends on avoiding whole categories of food, there is no cheating.

Guilt because you know that despite of what you may be feeling emotionally, despite of how you're feeling physically, you should be thankful. Thankful for life. Thankful for the blessings in your life. Thankful that it isn't a 'real' loss of life, just a loss of lifestyle. Guilt because you know it shouldn't be this INCREDIBLY BIG DEAL to give up certain foods. Guilt because there are so many more important things in life that should be taking priority.

Reminders come--day or night--of your "loss". TV commercials. Cooking shows. Daily meals with your family. Weekly grocery shopping trips. The sight and smell of food you'll never again taste and enjoy.

The melodrama of the first week, the first month, doesn't last forever. It does get better. Naturally it does. You adjust. You adapt. You learn. You find new ways to be joyful. You find new ways to live life well.

There is definitely a sense of adventure. The old you has passed away, the new you is here to stay. The focus becomes more:

  • what can I eat? 
  • what new things can I try? 
  • how can I make what I eat taste really, really good? 
  • can I recapture a sense of satisfaction? 

I see God's Providence in my life. It is no longer a mere doctrine that I assent to abstractly. God providentially shaped me, my life, my health--or lack of. He shaped all the circumstances in my life. He has blessed me throughout. His blessings don't always look and feel like blessings--at least not as prosperity preachers would have you believe. But isn't it blessed to be drawn closer to the Savior? Isn't it a blessing to live moment-by-moment by a strength not your own? Isn't it a blessing to know that God's grace is sufficient? Aren't there lessons that can only be learned by taking refuge in God? Aren't there blessings to be found in waiting? in seeking? in trusting?

Maybe food was an idol in my heart--maybe it wasn't. All I know is that God IS good. The physical trials I've undergone the past two years of my life have strengthened me spiritually. (Note not perfected me, not taught me everything there is to know, if anything I've learned how much I don't know, how certain I am that I can never know all there is to know).
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Psalm 34:8
I'll end this little post with a playlist that helped me to SURVIVE those melodramatic first weeks.

Blessed Be Your Name, Matt Redman
I recommend singing this one LOUDLY and often. When others hear this song on the radio--or whenever--and identify it as YOUR SONG. Then you know you're on the right track!

10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman. Same as above! I think one of the reasons these two songs work so well is it directs and focuses you God-ward. And Godward is where you need to be, need to REST.

Joy by Rend Collective
I choose this one because you need a DANCING song to lose yourself in. Rend Collective, in case you're unfamiliar with this group, just brings a SMILE each and every time.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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