On Grace

Last month I undertook a Whole 30. It’s an eating program designed to reset your body and it allows you to pay attention to how certain potentially “offensive” food groups affect how you feel and your overall well-being. It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t as terrible as the first time I attempted it, when I only managed to last for 12 days. This time I completed the program, and then some, having tacked on 3 extra days in honor of my 33rd birthday. For 33 days I tasted not a single lick or morsel of sugar, grains, dairy, or legumes. No cake on Easter Sunday. No beer with my husband after the kids were in bed. No cheating.

What helped me more than anything else was focusing on all the delicious things I was able to eat, instead of the many delicious things I couldn’t. There were only a couple of times that I felt left out and sorry for myself. For the most part, I felt really energetic and motivated.

Unfortunately, since my 33 days ended, I’ve allowed myself to drift back into old habits. The past month has been stressful and emotional, and I’ve turned to food for comfort. I’ve been mindlessly eating, which was something I never did while on the Whole 30. I don’t feel as good as I did when I was eating “clean,” and that depresses me a bit. While I haven’t had any food allergies or sensitivities pop up since reintroducing foods, I just haven’t felt as good. I’ve been sluggish and moody and unmotivated.

I don’t want that to be true. I want to eat whatever I want whenever I want and still feel good. I want to feel comfortable in my body and confident that I’m making good choices for myself. I don’t want to have to follow strict guidelines and restrictions for the rest of my life. I just want to be normal, whatever that means.

In addition to coming down off the mountain top of a successful Whole 30, I’ve spent the past 3 or 4 weeks in silent, seething anger towards God. The entire month of May is just one big reminder of what I don’t have; namely, my mom. She died on May 20, 2011, but she was fading away that entire month. So May reminds me of my last Mother’s Day with her, and her last few, mostly incoherent days on earth. Then school lets out and I ache because she was a school teacher who loved the summer and loved to spend it with her grandkids. I ache for my children and I ache for me.

Only just last night, while in the throes of another round of insomnia, did it hit me what I have been doing. I have been focusing on what I don’t have and can’t have, instead of what I do have- the faithfulness of God and His countless blessings upon me. It wasn’t like being hit over the head with the realization, it was more like a gentle, tender arm turned me around and opened my eyes.

Grace upon grace.

Grace in the hard.

Grace in the unknown.

Grace in the waiting.

Grace in the confusion.

Grace in the silence.

Grace in my anger.

Grace in my doubt.

Grace as I mourn.

Grace as I grieve.

Grace upon grace upon grace.

If Kara Tippetts could find it at every turn in the midst of her amazingly difficult story, I can as well. So I’m on the hunt for it now. Like Ann Voskamp, I’m armed with a journal and I’m writing down grace, committing to paper the thousands of blessings that I’ve allowed myself to ignore for a while now, so I could spend my time and energy being angry and doubting the goodness of God. Thankfully, I’m tired of doing that. (Grace.)

This piece reflects the experience of the writer and is not intended to be understood as nutritional or health advice, only spiritual reflection. If you find yourself dealing with body image or eating issues, we recommend you seek a professional treatment team including a dietitian, therapist, and medical doctor. If you need assistance finding a professional treatment team, please do not hesitate to contact us for help.

Doug Serven