I have been asked by several people, including my therapist, to write out a narrative of our family's dietary changes. I am also in a summer writing class that focuses on the Buddhist practice of cultivating Metta (or loving kindness) in our lives. So in the weeks to come, many of my posts will probably have that theme running through it. So, it's Sunday afternoon, the kids are sleeping and I am in the mood to write it out. So here we go...
When my daughter’s occupational therapist recommended that both the kids and I go on a dairy-free, gluten-free diet, I thought she must be talking to a capable, granola mama sitting behind me. When I turned around and realized no such woman was there, I realized she was speaking directly to me. And then I wondered if I could just fake the whole darn diet thing altogether. Maybe the OT would just *think* I was doing the diet and I wouldn't have to change a thing. Yes, that was my initial thought to the recommendation. Pretty ludicrous, right?
At the time, I was adjusting to my increased dosage of ADHD medication so I was already feeling like I was going through an adjustment period. However, after my daughter was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder, I wanted to give her every tool under the sun to help her learn to succeed in a world that wanted her to sit still and be a “normal” kid. Her occupational therapist and doctor assured me that many of our mental health and gastrointestinal battles were due to increased inflammation in our stomachs and brains. In order to help my daughter, I was going to have to learn to actively love myself on a much more intimate level.
It wasn’t that I thought our health practitioners, whom I trusted, were lying to me. It was more that I never saw myself as the sort of mother that checked the contents of every food label I handled. To be honest, I remember several instances talking to my friends skeptically about such parents. But here I was, facing a decision that would greatly impact the way Luke and I parented, loved our kids and ourselves.
After calling all my fellow health and wellness friends on the phone all over the country, looking for one of them to tell me that such a move was not that important and not receiving a single answer that I was personally hoping for, we reluctantly made the choice to put myself and both my kids on a dairy and gluten free diet.
Shortly into this new adventure in food and nutrition, I listened to a sermon by the pastor at our church. In one of his sermons, he challenged those of us listening to “let Jesus change the way we think.” I remember sitting in the church pew feeling like God had just shed light on my own ignorance. Maybe our family was actually going gluten and dairy free FOR JESUS.
Three weeks into this process, my self -perception began to change. What if I actually was capable of making big changes for myself AND the family at the same time? What if my reluctance towards this change was actually me protecting a false image of myself? What if this false image was a character I fabricated to accept unskillful, irresponsible behavior as ok? Either way, I am fairly sure Jesus was sick of this act too. Frankly, I think we both were.
I think it imperative that we begin to invite Jesus into some messy areas of our own psyche. What if we truly began to love ourselves in the same way Jesus loved us? Would we accept our same status quo behavior that made us feel stuck in our depressive ruts? Would we more capable of loving the people that are hardest to love? Could we become more aware of our own behaviors that hold us back from feeling completely loved by God and ourselves?
For me the answer to all these questions is a unanimous, YES!
What about you?