I’m beginning a self-induced, 5-day physical cleanse. This morning, as I prepared myself for the next 5 days, my mind raced back to another “cleanse” that occurred in our house many years ago, and the entire thought process brought me full circle to how it applies to us all –
all day every day, without having anything to do with food…
When my youngest was born, she was the sweetest, gentlest, mildest little thing you’d ever seen. She would maintain that gentle beauty, but it would go in and out of season – and when I say season, I mean minute. As her toddler and early childhood years progressed, things were changing. Things I just couldn’t put my finger on because she would be so docile one moment and out of control the next.
There was no containing her energy or emotions.
Yes, I know toddlers are a handful, but there’s a point at which you notice something is not quite right. Out of control elements would vary. Having those perfect family devotions like you read about in the blogs of those families where everyone sits quietly cozied up together right before bed – HA! We were lucky to keep her contained to one room let alone, sitting upright and still.
Oh my goodness, what does that even look like?
Does that happen?
Making it through a meal without her melting down and making it through a day without me in tears was a rare occasion. Children do sit on their heads and spit out all their food habitually, don’t they? No?
I know. Some of you may have decided that I must have been an unfit mom. Perhaps you think that with consistent discipline and structure, you could have done differently. May I refer you to the sentence above about my tears? Those tears were because all of my structure, all of my rules, all of my consistent discipline, all of my grace that continued to love while I continued in hurt seemed for naught.
no. thing. worked.
Half way through Kindergarten, we were sitting on the couch trying to make it through the reader that she was expected to read 3 times aloud each evening (shoot me now), and it all came to a head. At that time in her life, her precious little mind wasn’t ready to read at that level. But, her class required it – so we suffered through with our best attempts to obey. It was stressful for her; it was stressful for me. For any of you who can relate, you know it was also stressful for her dad and sister. Night after night, we would take hours to complete the homework assigned – simply reading through the most recently assigned booklet – 3 times.
Reading while squirming all over the couch, sitting on one’s head (and repeatedly kicking mom in the face as a result), rolling under the coffee table, etc. just didn’t work. I have a very long fuse – patience, I can do. But, the dailyness, the mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion of it all…
finally came out.
I stopped her motion, held her little shoulders in my hands, and firmly said, “Would you just BE STILL?!” The next moment is one that brings tears to my eyes every single time I remember it – which is often, and yes, the tears are here now. Those drop dead gorgeous blue eyes became more focused than I had ever seen in her life. They locked into mine, and with all of the seriousness in the world, her two-word, passionate response, spoke volumes –
Sounds like a defiant child, doesn’t it? But, you had to see those eyes. Those eyes hated everything about her own response. It was raw, it was desperate, and it was brutally honest. She didn’t want it to be that way. In Kindergarten, when every little girl should be having fun with dolls and crayons – my little girl hated herself. Her eyes told me so. Immediately, homework was disregarded for the evening, she sunk into my arms, and we both cried.
Something had to change.
I don’t think I slept that night. I know I didn’t focus on much of anything else for quite some time. My newfound determination was to find whatever she needed in order to bring her relief. I researched until my mind was numb and began eliminating things from her diet that might be contributing to her situation. Within a month, her teacher asked me what in the world we had done – what had brought such an amazing change. It was simply her diet. I had to cut things out that many people take for granted and eat every day. It was hard – she missed them very much. But, it was worth it, because we were seeing the difference…
and she was feeling it.
Sometimes letting go of something we think we love
brings us to where we can see it for the danger it really is.
But, there was this problem. We love to call it “good intentions.” Friends, family, etc who knew how much she missed some of the things we’d needed to cut out of her diet, would sneak her a “treat” once in a while. We wouldn’t understand where the sudden thrashing about or the huge emotional swings and outbursts would come from. Then we would ask – and invariably, the answer would follow from the well intentioned. “It was just a treat”… ya know – just once in a while… Can that really hurt?
Let me count the ways…
Actually, I won’t, because we have a bigger picture to move on to.
Just a treat.
We all do it – not with food – but with sin in our lives.
Something – anything – we know we need to cut out, but it draws us back time and time again. We don’t plan on dwelling there, but it tastes so good – just one taste – that’ll do… How much can it really hurt? Could it pull me into self-loathing and shame? Well, sure I guess. Will it start the cycle of defeat all over again? Yeah, there is that. Might it be the one time that brings me to decide that I’ll never be able to stop at one bite and I might as well indulge? Maybe – is it worth it to take the risk?
It’s not a treat.
I’m not sure why we ever decided to associate a slip up with a positive word like “treat” as if that makes it acceptable. Maybe we call them guilty pleasures. Stop and look at that term for a minute. Really? Have you really ever had pleasure once the guilt sets in? Or we label them indulgences. Sounds just about right – we have an enemy that wants to “treat” us – entice us to indulge – but then leaves us hanging out to dry or marinating in shame.
Treats may “taste” good for a moment, but then, like my precious little girl, take us to a place where we are tempted to hate ourselves. The eyes that told me of such self-hatred broke my heart. I’m sure that our heavenly Father is no less brokenhearted when our treats take us to the same place.
Interestingly enough, that little girl grew into a beautiful young woman who happens to be the biggest health food fanatic in our house. Once you experience the freedom from the shackles of whatever it was that was causing your pain, the peace tastes much sweeter than the treat ever did.
What will you treat yourself to today? What will you choose to taste of – your sin or His goodness? There is One who will never leave you abandoned, bitter, or shamed… angie <><
Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.