I was made in the fires
Of your care for me
Any strength that I have
Yeah you gave it to me
And I will find you in the next life
- Allman Brown
This year for Lent I decided to do the Whole30. I knew it would “be a lot” for Lent. One Whole30 guru friend even warned me it may distract instead of add to my Lenten experience. But I knew there was a good reason I had this continuous urge to do it during this season. I thought my reason was to eat clean, stop all of the sweets from post-Christmas that lingered, as the lenten season cleansed my heart or like I told everyone I wanted to explore the science of it. How would I feel? Would I discover some of my many minor ailments in life lessen on this diet? Would I have more energy? And as I “reenter” foods again would I determine what food was the culprit to my smaller physical issues?
These were all great reasons yes. But why now? Why so strict when I’m already healthy?
And Why Lent? Why during this season I have come to love, one where I choose to spend time re-focusing and re-discovering a depth of longing for Christ to come as He does on Easter. A season I fondly welcome so Easter day feels exciting, special…needed just like the truth it represents.
And in a moment of honesty right after I began the diet (AKA on Ash Wednesday evening when I may or may not have been lamenting the length of this whole 30 day thing) I blurted out the truth that resided in deeper in me as to why I felt so drawn toward doing this during this preparatory season: I knew deep down I didn’t know how to trust my body or therefore my God who made me.
For 15 years I haven’t eaten red meat. Sure that’s a good and fine thing to do on many levels. And I don’t think in life you’ll ever see my eat a steak because I hate the texture and even look of it. Yea, not my thing. But, did I trust my body that if I did it would be fine? It could process it healthfully like I am designed? What about saturated fats? Them too I’ve avoided mostly from my teenage years to this day. I did it in the name of health which is a great thing. But did I trust that if I ate them my body would process and love me back when I put them in?
This is not to say I have any urge to eat junk. I don’t. It is to share with you that some “tapes” we hold onto from our past selves may not fit our future or even present selves. Currently I have an awesome family (yep, I have had them all my life too 😉 ) who loves to eat basically all Paleo as we get together to feed our bodies and our souls over dinners. I have always been a “health-nut” so this way of eating isn’t out of the realm of how I cook in my day to day anyway. But where it stretches me is meat and the fat. Here I was, an adult who taught herself in teenage years to avoid these things for health and fitness…self-care I thought… seeing them eaten in the name of health. That part didn’t compute.
So Lent began, and with it my Whole30. Me being this health-nut I’ve described thought it would be a breeze. I knew how to cook, I loved cooking. This would be a cinch.
I was wrong. First, I got all the symptoms – the “hangover”(headaches and weirdness); “I need a nap” days; brain fog; breakouts… you name it if it’s one of the usual suspects. And the answer, a beloved sister in life taught me, may be there very things I avoided. So I ate…. and the physical symptoms healed. But another thing I also wasn’t prepared for remained – me eye to eye with my old tapes.
I did this diet to trust more. To trust God will sustain me no matter what. To trust myself. To trust the loving way I was knit together in my mother’s womb. I did this to trust.
And wouldn’t you know…. the voices in my head that so lovingly were keeping me from what they thought would be a place of “dis-ease”, of unhealthiness, of unfitness… the voices of the past who have tried so so hard to keep me safe, healthy, fit, free from harm… were the very voices that kicked up and started to play loudly their tapes through my Lenten journey.
During Lent, we remember we are human. We empathize and sit in awe of Jesus the Christ – our God who chose to come, suffer, die, free us. We see His journey to the cross, the suffering He endured and ultimately the freedom it produced for all. We also see ourselves; ourselves fully in need of a savior, in need of a God-man who would free us from all of the pain, sufferings and hells-on-earth that are keeping us from real freedom and union with God.
And every time, every Lent we begin in the desert. We begin reflecting on how Jesus’ journey began with 40 days and nights in the desert. Ash Wednesday, the day Lent begins, we begin by remembering we are human. We need a savior. We need this healing after suffering. We have deserts all around.
So this Lent, as I finish out my diet journey – I wouldn’t use the word “distracting” for it, but I would challenging. It is doing exactly what I prayed, and yet way more than I realized I was getting into. It is bringing to light all that I’d tucked away safe and neat. And it is doing it, like Jesus’ journey to our freedom, toward a healthier, more God-trusting, self-trusting, life-trusting place if I would just stay in the heat of the desert. If I would choose, day in and day out to question the old tapes, to practice self-compassion, to see where I’ve come from, learn why these tapes exist, and claim what is the truth today and tomorrow and from here on out for me.
Wherever you are, whatever your tapes are that keep you stuck outside of freedom may you begin to question them all. May you choose to be brave, to look them eye to eye and tell them of their lies and your truth. May you allow the desert, the journey, the humanity in yourself to come to light so on Easter day you know you need a savior. May you know this Easter how much need you have, and may you also know there is someone alive waiting to meet your every one.
Grace & peace.
Extra Musings and Random Thoughts
Finished Jason Mitchell’s first book No Easy Jesus that came out this month. Like the title he doesn’t hold back but speaks – like my truth above – of how Jesus didn’t keep us from harm, but walks the journey with us and leads us to love boldly and bravely with our lives. It’s a solid read.
Been thinking a ton on the Enneagram for the past few months as my book club brunch prepares for our next meeting on The Road Back to You. Super interesting. Really enjoy thinking about this dynamic personality typing system that helps you understand yourself in health and in stress.
My new music playlist for March….. absolutely loving it.
Last but not least: my favorite gift in my Lenten season this year has been daily Lectio Divina meditations read by Mike McHargue from the Liturgists. Here’s one free episode. Only $5 for them all though… so beautiful. So worth it.
Picture is my home’s “Lenten Flower”. It’s now under snow. But this very early bloomer always breathes hope and joy.