I've now been immersed in the world of nutrition, functional wellness, and food as medicine for 7 years. On one hand that's a considerable amount of time, but compared to others I know, it's a mere drop in the bucket. So far, it's been quite the personal journey - sometimes exhilarating, sometimes devastating, always intriguing, and often lonely - and I know there will be many more twists and turns as the years continue to pass.
I'm here for it.
Despite the ups and downs, one thing that has been fairly consistent during all this time is the very predictable reaction I receive from friends, family, and acquaintances after all the niceties are presented and a hopeful vision for their future improved health is cast, and we get down to business with a single 5-syllable word that no one wants to hear.
That word is ELIMINATION.
Hold that thought for a minute...
It is puzzling to me that when an alcoholic declares he's been completely dry for a 12 months, we are quick to celebrate and shower him with encouraging words. "Awesome! You've got this, man! Keep up the great work! We are here to support you! Just outstanding!"
When a former smoker shares that she hasn't had a single cigarette in 8 years, we raise the roof with praise and declare what an accomplishment that is and what a powerful example she is to her children. "You rock! You inspire me! We are all so proud of you! Here's to a full and fruitful life of smoke-free living! LOVE IT!"
When a longtime drug addict shares a testimony of God's faithfulness to free him of his soul-crushing addiction, we are brought to tears with the dramatic story of recovery, restoration, and redemption. "God is so good! His desire is for us to walk in freedom! There is nothing He can't do, and no life he can't redeem! AMEN!!"
In all three of these cases, we recognize, honor, and celebrate the ELIMINATION of a destructive vice. We know very well the final destination of those devastating paths, and so it's a collective blessing and encouragement when individuals have the strength and humility to bushwhack their way back to a path of life and freedom. Their mess becomes their message, and we rally behind it and them. As spectators, we recognize that total elimination is good and necessary and right. Any kind of wishy-washy middle ground would be a certain return to behavioral bondage.
But imagine if someone were to say, "Guys, it's been 90 days since I've consumed any processed food/sugar/fast food and I feel so good, I don't think I'll ever go back!" How would you respond?
With judgment? (Dude, no. You can't be serious?!)
With awkward silence? (Don't make eye contact, suddenly become very interested in the carpet fibers.)
With apathy? (Hm? Oh, cool. What time is it, by the way?)
With ridicule? (What are you? Some kind of tree-hugging granola freak?)
With private shame? (looks a lot like awkward silence...conviction hurts sometimes)
Why is it that when food is involved, suddenly everyone is all about "all things in moderation"? Does this apply to illicit drugs? Extra-marital affairs? Sniffing glue? Drunk bungee jumping? Is a little bit of everything always a good thing? Is it ever appropriate to make a 180 degree turn? To abstain totally and completely, forever and ever? To say, "No, thanks. I'm really not interested in that"?
When I try to explain to folks that sometimes total elimination of certain foods/phoods/drinks is the very best and life-affirming choice they could possibly make, a very common response is, "But I have this personality-thing where total elimination just makes me want it more. I do better if I have a little bit here and there...you know not a lot, of course...but...I mean...I can totally go without it if I need to!" Except, they DO need to, and they can't. They are captive.
I don't know about you, but to me that sounds like addiction.
Friends, you don't moderate addiction.
You get medieval with it and burn it to the ground.
Then you walk away - no, YOU RUN AWAY.
And you never look back.
Let us throw off everything that hinders, and the sin that so easily entangles.
Total elimination can be glorious! A pure delight. Try it and see.
Hebrews 12:9 - No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.