I LOVE icecream. I really do. And I’m OBSESSED with root beer. I used to drink it every day. And man, did I enjoy a caramel macchiato from Starbucks. Most people take these tasty desserts for granted. They taste good so they eat them. Simple.
Well, I’ve gone almost two months now without sugar, many sugar substitutes, or anything that turns into sugars. Yes, that means starchy veggies (you know, the ones that are border-line veggies like potatoes and corn), and that even means fruit. And I LOVE fruit, y’all.
I’ve gone two months without liquor. No margaritas for me anymore.
It’s been about five months since I’ve eaten dairy or gluten.
It’s been about three years since I’ve had caffeine.
Now I can’t even have any kind of flour (no donuts, cookies, or pancakes), or even gluten-free pasta. Noooooo!
I’m not gonna lie. It’s been real hard.
Not like the kind of hard when you just really want a donut, but you beeeetter not. Like, really really difficult because I’m having to drastically change a huge part of my lifestyle in the HOPES that I start to feel better. And I haven’t even really began to feel better after eating like this for months. And I don’t really have a choice, because if I eat something wrong I will be over the toilet all night or I’ll be nauseous for days. That’s only guaranteed when I eat wrong, but I feel like this the majority of the time anyway.
My point in writing this isn’t to feel bad for myself and write a sob story. It’s just to get my thoughts and feelings down somewhere because I’ve really been struggling. And it’s also to document the victories I am having but most of the time overlook. It’s also to proclaim victory before it actually happens, because I believe in speaking things into existence and having faith with all of your strength.
I hate that I struggle with my health so much, and I hate that I struggle with the changes I have to make to get better. I know that many people probably think I am a baby for the way I’m dealing with this, or that I’m waaay too sensitive. Which may be true. But it’s hard, and I don’t think the way I cope with my diagnosis and diet is weak. Honestly, I think I am strong because most days it feels like it will break me, but I keep going. I keep going when I feel like giving up, and that is strength.
Even if it takes me leaving the restaurant table for a few minutes to let out some tears. I’ve done that several times now btw. Even if it takes screwing up my diet, then having a panic attack because of my disappointment. When I eat something I shouldn’t, and then beat myself up about it afterwards, it shows I am trying and that I care. When my friends are making pasta or go out for icecream, and I suck it up and eat my chicken and veggies (and I’m not rude or jealous)…that is strength. When I feel nauseous and puky and have body pains and headaches, but I go to class anyway…that is strength.
To be honest, most days I just feel like laying in bed all day. Most days I am constantly nauseous. I cry because I just don’t want to feel like this anymore. I cry because I’m tired of doctor’s appointments and tests and medications. Sometimes I feel hopeless, but I keep going because I have faith that it will get better. And if not…God is still good.
I do believe that I will find relief. Or I at least try my best to believe it. My sinus surgery last April has improved my sinuses immensely. My acid reflux has improved so much. I don’t have as much joint pain as I used to. And my new doctor finally found answers and diagnosed me. Just putting a name to it helps. I have an overgrowth of Candida yeast in my stomach that was getting into my bloodstream. It attacks my immune system, causes sinus infections, gives me body pain and fatigue, brings on nausea and vomiting and stomach pain, and eats at my digestive tract by causing food intolerance. I also have major vitamin deficiencies in B, C, and D. But now I at least have a path to recovery, and that was what I prayed for so long. While the Enemy seeks to steal, kill, and destroy, Jesus came to bring abundant life. And I believe that is what He truly wants for me.
But I have come to realize that Jesus wants me to have an abundant life in the midst of my struggles as well. Sometimes bad stuff just happens. But should we just wallow in our grief and let it overcome us. No, of course not. I can admit firsthand that it can be really easy to succumb to that. But in the middle of my hardships, I can find more strength and courage in God than I have ever had. I can find joy in the little things and in small victories. And when life seems to stop or when I seem to give up, God is still working. The past year has been the most difficult of my life. But in that year, God gave me an internship and gave me the health to start leading worship again. God brought me closer to my family. God crushed my uncertainties about my future and opened a door for a full scholarship at Candler. You see, God’s plans can never be thwarted. Would it be terrible to feel this way for the rest of my life, or have to eat this way forever? Duh. But God is still fulfilling promises right and left. And with God’s strength, I can still go to seminary and learn about my calling and proclaim His faithfulness to the world. Because that’s God’s plan for my life. The Lord will not stop until that promise is fulfilled.
I think about the story of Job in the Bible, and how faithful he continued to be even when he lost everything. I mean seriously, Job lost not only lost his health, but his home, his belongings, his family, everything. Yeah, he questioned God. I’m sure he often felt life was hopeless, sad, or even meaningless. But he never abandoned God. I think about Job, and I realize there’s no way I could ever be as faithful as him if I experienced that much loss. I already doubt God, I cut off communication when I’m upset, and I let anxiety take over instead of turning it over. But the Lord tells Job, “Who are you to question me? Were you there when I laid the foundations of the earth?” And I think the Lord also meant, “Who are you to question me? Were you there when I defended you? Were you there when I protected you?” And it’s true, God never puts this affliction on us. Maybe someone else does and maybe it really really hurts, but God is still present. I have to believe the simple truth– that the Lord is good and that the Lord loves me. I’m not always good at remembering that, but still it remains true. The Lord is good and the Lord loves me. I’m still working on it, but I can be content with that no matter what sickness comes.
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” — Philippians 4:11-13