I talked to my sister today. We haven't spoken in several weeks. Last August, she and her husband + four kids moved to Spanish Wells, Bahamas, a tiny island three miles long by one mile wide. For no particular reason and with no particular plan - they just felt that's where the Lord was leading, and they followed.
It was really good to speak with her. She sounds wonderful.
We had about a thirty minute catch-up. I ran her down on our news, and she did the same for me. Speaking with her has made me realize how far we've come, both of us, from our adolescent days and twenty-something lost-in-the-woods round-and-rounds. She turns forty this year. I will be thirty-four in a matter of weeks. Yes, we've come a long way.
My catch-up consisted of filling her in on the changes we've made in our household during the last several weeks. Between my endocrinologist, naturopath, two OB's, and all of Lily's doctors, we came to a place where, basically, we realized we needed to get back to the basics (pun intended). The very basics: we're changing the way we eat.
I've gone from the fourteen-year-old who would eat a Short Stop combo meal every night, to the twenty-something that, maybe, ate a slice of cheese pizza once a day with a cup of coffee in the morning, to miss "five servings a day".
It all started about a year ago. I spent much of my prayer life asking the same question over and over: "God, how can I glorify you with my life?" I expected a big answer. You know, something along the lines of "become a missionary" or "sell everything and feed the poor". An answer worthy of Biblical proportions. Something for the history books. Something radical. This is what I heard:
"Eat well," He would say, repeating Himself ad nauseum until this stubborn mama could hear. I swear if He said it once, He said it a thousand times.
Fast forward one year; it's early February 2011: I'm so sick I can barely move, and no one knows what's wrong. In fact, most of the medical community has outright told me they think it's in my head. I've been in deterioration since my first pregnancy, the year 2007. It's now at the point that when I'm not on kid duty, I'm in bed. I have no energy and see no end in sight. I'm withdrawn and despondent. Most people don't even know how sick I am because I've gone so internal. I've started to lose hope.
Finally, I see a doctor who not only thinks he understands the core of the issue, he also tells me that my issues are most definitely not in my head. The pieces start falling into place: my adrenal glands are in decline, and my body doesn't make enough cortisol. In addition, I don't get the nutrients I need to function - namely, Vitamin D and B - for two reasons. The first is because I'm sensitive to gluten. Eating gluten is blocking nutrition. Secondly, I don't eat well. Not eating well puts extra stress on my system, triggering my adrenal glands, which can't make up the difference. The cycle continues, moving me further down the rabbit hole with each rotation.
So, I start giving my body the cortisol it needs, at the direction of my endocrinologist, but my fainting episodes continue. The body keeps shutting down. Why? I go see a naturopathic doctor. The first thing she said to me?
"Why don't you eat?"
She had just finished going over my history in detail. At the end of our two hour chat, she asked me to detail a typical day's eating habits. Afterward she looked incredulous, and the question came like a cannon in my mind: "why don't you eat?"
Yes, why don't you? I hear the Holy Spirit whisper.
Yes, why don't I? I ask myself in my innermost place.
The answer is complicated and - honestly - too personal for this blog post. Suffice it to say, I spent almost my entire life ignoring my body. I cut myself off from it, pretending like it didn't exist. One of my dear friends - exacerbated - once said to me, "Jenny, it used to make me crazy when you would tell me that you forgot to eat. Who forgets to eat? My body won't let me not eat!"
When she said that, I had an epiphany: this isnt' just about me cutting myself off from me; this is about me cutting myself off from God. In many ways. The most obvious, of course, is His direct command to me: "eat well." I had been walking in disobedience, and I had known it. More than that, though - for this isn't about the law - I had dishonored someone I loved, treating His creation as if it wasn't worthy of care, effectively saying to Him: "I know better than you. Why should I take care of something that doesn't matter?"
When the naturopath started to teach me how to eat - explaining the why's and how-for's behind organic vs. not organic, the number of vegetable servings I need in a day and why, how lean protein interacts with "good" fatty acids, how hormones are excreted by plastic containers, causing the hormones in my body to get off-balance - I started to understand.
When I asked God how I could glorify Him and He answered "eat well", He knew. Long before I had a clue, He knew that I needed food. Quite literally. It was actually becoming a matter of life and death. I needed to give my body a break from over-working itself; I needed to give it what it is designed to need. I needed to feed myself.
And I needed to trust Him that what He had made was good, that my body - like the rest of me - deserved attention, that, to put it bluntly, I was worth the effort.
I had spent so many years focusing on the spiritual and emotional while ignoring the physical. In so doing, I missed out on a large part of God's heart. He wants us to be whole beings - as integrated as He is, held together by the bonds of love.
I need to love myself, I need to honor myself, I need to treat myself - all of myself - as though I matter. Eating well...it is an act of worship. Putting good things into my body...it is a way to glorify my Maker. Allowing my body to work as it was intended to do so makes it more possible for Him to be reflected in that work.
This is an exciting journey, ultimately an act of repentance unto worship. I am thankful for His patience. I know that, because it took me so long to come around to obedience, the road back will be all the longer. I will take time to recover...time to heal. But that's okay. I know He has extended me grace for this journey. I know He is here, now, in the turning. And I know He will be with me as I move forward, toward Him. For He is good, and His love endures forever (Psalm 118:1). Amen.
Linking up with Jen and the ladies at Soli Deo Gloria. Be sure to stop by.