This isn't going to be the post where I tell you what to eat, or how to prepare it. I hope you know by now that The Little Way is not where you come to hear that you aren't doing it right, or often enough, or with the perfect flair. I'm not interested in that. So, that's not what I'm talking about when I post a giant image with food on it. Instead, I want to talk about our hearts and the big conversation that we want to have/don't want to have/have tried to have/keep hoping no one brings up again.
Have you noticed that we're really good at drawing up camps against one another? There are a million road signs along the way shouting, "Attain the perfect body! Flat abs in 30 days! Get noticed and then you'll be happy!" or "Screw them! Eat the twinkies! You only get to live once!". If you're like me, you'll try out both camps - multiple times. You'll buy the things that promise to make you perfect and satisfied. You'll throw in the towl and binge on whatever the heck you want. You'll keep swinging from one adamant group to the next. Probably forgetting that each side is made up of women (and men) who are just as wandering as you are.
I've walked a very long road of trying to find what made me healthy and honored my own body's needs. I've been an on and off vegetarian for over 11 years. I was a raw vegan for about 6 months, followed by being a straight up vegan for five years. Recently I threw caution to the wind and dabbled in red meat, which really just kept making me sick. We banned sugar for about 2 years, but now we consume it regularly. I've been completely inactive and stagnant and I've had seasons where I worked out every day. These days I take a holy yoga class whenever I can get it - which averages to about 2-3 times a week if I'm lucky. I practice infrequently and non-excessively from home - mostly when I'm so stressed I think my eyeballs are going to explode.
Most recently I was very intrigued by the newly popular idea that nothing is off-limits. Just eat and move. I like that idea. Its health in its purest form. Don't worry about counting calories or portion control. Just eat what you're hungry for, when you're hungry for it, but move consistently. It's a great idea. And the people who do it well are preaching an amazing message on body image.
But there's an extreme to that one too. I stumbled onto a passionately preached belief that "eat what you want" means "load up your grocery cart with hohos and wonderbread". Which pretty much alarms me. Not because it's physically an overload for our body's functionality, but because it exposes the wound that causes most of us to sit up in our chairs, dust off the cheeto dust (of which I am guilty of as of last Friday) and proclaim that this new just-as-lost way is THE way. We're still hiding. Even when we're swinging from camp to camp, we're still hiding. Our spiritual ache is not being soothed.
We've forgotten that our healing lies in the in between space. We've lost ourselves in the wild rush of belonging somewhere, of standing in solidarity with other people - even if that means we just keep on hurting ourselves and others. We're often not very careful and what ends up happening is both sides start throwing stones. Human beings are being hurt as we stand in clusters, on opposite ends of the same road, and condemn each other for walking on the "wrong" side.
Who says its wrong?
We get weird about food, don't we? When we see someone eating something new, or different, we automatically assume they're judging us for our snack choice. They don't even have to SAY anything, we just KNOW they are picturing our arteries clogging and our hips expanding. We make a spiritual issue out of a non issue, because it IS a spiritual issue. The second we start feeling judged by their silent eating, our own scarcity is being exposed. We are operating out of a deficit and we can't see that we are still on the same road. All we see is that they are standing on the other side. Two feet away. But it feels like a chasm has opened up between us.
I've been on both sides of that road, friends. I bet you have been too. I've felt judged and others have felt judged by me. Either way, it stinks. It hurts. It opens up my empty places and echoes off the walls of my heart. I end up feeling alone when I started out just wanting to heal.
Here's what I want to say about that. I'm not judging you. You can eat a big mac or a kale salad. You're still a human being. I'm still for you and with you. Really, it's none of my business. At all. Don't get me wrong, I am FOR your health. I am just fully aware that I don't have the ability to heal your wounds or provide your abundance. What you put on your plate has nothing to do with me, no matter how convinced I am that you are pulling it out just to make me feel insignificant.
I'm trying to believe that you're not judging me either, but my sticky relationship with myself makes it so hard to trust. Which is why I'm talking about it today. I know that I am not the only woman to feel like I have to hide my rice cakes or my doritos -maybe both - under the table. I know that I'm not the only one to show up at a BBQ with my single, isolated, weird meal on full display, sparking all of my restrictive eating patterns in one fell swoop. You're not alone either.
If I had a literal table I would invite you to come and eat at it. I would laugh with you and we would let our hearts spill out over any dang thing we happened to be eating, because WHAT WE EAT is not as important as what we pour out, right? Jesus said it, like he knew that someday we would be staring at each other across our very different plates, wondering what the other person was thinking about us. Truth be told, people have been fighting over food for a very long time. It triggers something ancient in us. Maybe it triggers that moment in the garden when food changed everything, leaving us lost and tired. Maybe it triggers the intimacy of celebrating over a feast and the fact that being fully known makes us a teensy bit terrified. Maybe it just makes us feel weird to be different in any way. Most likely, we're all just trying to decipher how and where we fit in with the rest of humanity. We're already comparing our bodies, giftings and lifestyles to everyone else - why not our food choices?
Whatever it is, we've been setting up tents on opposite ends for way too long. So, maybe today's the day that we come back to the middle of the road, plop ourselves down in the dust, pull out our kale chips and fried chicken and invite everyone else to the feast. Lets do that. Lets seek out the person we have felt uncomfortable with and have a conversation. Lets extend grace and love and utter acceptance of our differences. Lets stop that crazy right here. Right now. And lets keep talking about it. All it takes for this kind of freedom to spread is for us to start living differently and loving differently. Slowly the world will join in.
Ready? One brave step at a time. Mine is this: I'm going to hit 'publish' and you're going to read this. My heart will nearly leap out of my chest because this is NOT something I like to talk about. I'll shake in my boots for awhile, but I'm going to do it anyway. Freedom does not come easy, but it comes freely.