Wednesday, January 25, 2012

for when trying is utterly futile

[raging battles with the seen: part 1]

since my health adventure began, there’s been a big slice of life that has been off limits, with uninviting exceptions that i can count on one hand. an area so prominent that i unfortunately can’t avoid it, especially around the holidays. because afterall, how else are the holidays celebrated, but by indulging in all kinds of delicious FOOD, right?

i don’t need to tell you that food is a beloved topic of conversation, especially among women. IRL and online. it’s the theme of social gatherings year-round, the centerpiece of holiday parties. food is a popular topic in the stories i read my son, the songs i sing.
it. is. everywhere . . . relentlessly!

the world seems to revolve around food.
and so does mine.
just in an exhausting, overwhelming, and utterly disheartening way.

i’ll spare you the details and simply say that for the past year and a half, my body has only been able to tolerate a handful of plain foods. plain potatoes, a gluten-free pasta, a protein drink, some plain veggies, and a ration of fruit. yep, that pretty much covers it. (whether for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. because they're all the same.)

so as thanksgiving approached, i found myself grieving. grieving the loss of freedom i’ve always known. grieving the loss of comfort that i never knew i sought – until it came to a screeching hault. and grieving the loss of convenience that i desperately want back sorely miss.

and as i’ve slowly shifted from being confined to my couch to reentering life outside my four walls, the world around me looks the same as it used to.
but i’m not.
i cannot interact with it the same as i always have. and that’s been a painful adjustment.

rationally, i know i’m not missing out on any health benefits derived from sugar, MSG, and whatever else lurks in our food. but emotionally, i don't care still long for the freedom, the occasional comfort, and oh, the convenience.

and then i am challenged with this:
"we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen,
since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

- 2 Corinthians 4:18

that is one impossible tall order, but i know it’s the only way i’ll avoid giving in to the temptation to be self-absorbed, or to buy into the lie that something aside from God can satisfy me. sure, i know that.
in my head.

but oh, the road from my head to my heart. it’s an awfully long, dark, and windy one, friends. because i’m a tangible, literal, planning kinda girl.

i like the seen!!

things i can touch. smell. and of course, taste.

and i live in the seen . . . i walk through aisle after aisle in the grocery store seeing all the food i can’t have. i practically drooled at the heavenly smell of fried chicken permeating from somebody’s open car window in a parking lot recently. and what i wouldn’t give to be able to go out on a dinner date with my husband again . . .

i’m weary of this road i’m travelling.
i’m struggling hard with impatience.
and sadly, i sense my relationship with food growing bitter and resentful.

amidst the struggle, i read this from joyce meyer:
“pride prevents patient waiting because the proud person thinks so highly of himself that he believes he should never be inconvenienced in any way.”

ouch . . .

okay then. so i am called to fix my eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen.
somehow . . .

friends, i haven’t solved that dilemma. i’ve thought about it a lot. i’ve talked to God about it a lot. and i’ve been banging my head against the wall trying to figure out how to actually to fix my mind’s eyes on what is unseen, rather than on all this plethora of food that surrounds me and causes my senses to scream brutal lies of deprivation to me

and then i remember . . .

i don’t have to figure it out.
victory doesn’t come in trying harder.
the power to overcome is only found when i stop trying.

this is a battle i can not win.
but Jesus already has.

“this is the assigned moment for Him to move into the center,
while i slip off to the sidelines.”

(john 3:30, the message)

in miles stanford’s book, the green letters (which i highly recommend), he shares this liberating truth from norman douty:

“throw down every endeavor and say, i cannot do it,
the more i try the farther i get from His likeness.
what shall i do?

ah, the Holy Spirit says, you cannot do it;
just withdraw; come out of it.
you have been in the arena, you have been endeavoring . . .
come out and sit down,
and as you sit there behold Him,
look at Him.

don’t try to be like Him, just look at Him.

just be occupied with Him.
forget about trying to be like Him.
instead of letting that fill your mind and heart, let Him fill it.”

my freedom lies in the simplicity of the gospel – when i remember that i am completely incapable of living this Christian life.

when i cease striving . . .

i invite you to read about the powerful experience that i had with God after seeking to surrender all this to Him. read raging battles with the seen: part 2 here.


  1. Well Tanya I would say that for me this post hit a home run! Ouch! I am dealing with some of these same things but in different ways. I really love that quote at the end of your post. I think part of my problem is that I want so much to be like Jesus and the more I try to be, the more I'm not at all like Him. 'Don't try to be like Him, just look at Him.' Oh girl I hear you. I am exactly there that I can't live this Christian life either. But you reminded me that HE can. Thanks for your honesty. You put words to some of my recent soul struggles. Bless you! love, Steph xo

  2. Having recently made some big changes to my eating habits (my choice, not driven by necessity like you have been) I am finding a freedom at the grocery walking down aisles & thinking, "I don't even need to look at that" or "I don't need/want any of that." It's kind of weird to just feel a freedom! But in other areas I struggle & your message resounds for me to just look at Jesus, to enjoy Him, to let Him take my struggles & fight my battles. Thanks for the (always) encouragement!

  3. I, too, have struggled with the emotional ties to food in the past several months as I've had to learn to live without food I grew up eating due to health issues. Praying for you as you lean on God's strength each and every day to learn this new way to live!

    1. oh ashley . . . then you KNOW the extent to which your words filled my heart with comfort. simply to hear from somebody who gets it. although i am truly sorry to hear that you have been facing health issues as well, esp. something that has stripped you of a familiar delight. it can be a very intense journey, can't it?

      but you know, as hard as it's been, i can see that the whole point of it all is that my soul finds its endless delight in the Bread of Life. may that be the beauty that He creates from the ashes of our health & food stuff!

  4. oh no. how I feel for you! as you say, there are certain comforts found in special foods...I would mourn the loss of them too. Proud of you for looking at the good, even if sometimes it's really hard to do!

    1. thank you for that warm, virtual hug, & encouraging high five, tara. it has definitely been an intense dying-to-self journey, but that's the whole point of anything & everything in life anyway, isn't it? so may the unfolding theme of this story become more of Him, & less of me.

  5. I think of how hard it is to resist certain foods at Lent, but having to do it all the time would be difficult. And you are right, food is so much a part of life and we probably don't even realize it. It is something we take for granted. Beautiful honest words. Found you through Faith Barista.

    1. i'm so glad you found me! and thank you for your encouraging words. i don't know if you had a chance to read part two or not, but that's where "redemption's beauty" begins to shine through. now i'll have to go check out your place! thx again for joining me here.

  6. CJ Mahaney has written: “I’m a proud man pursuing humility by the grace of God. I don’t write as an authority on humility; I write as a fellow pilgrim walking with you on the path set for us by our humble Savior” Pride is at the root of so much we struggle with, as we proudly go 'me first'. It's a hard lesson but I love your humility and openness. It is when we are weak that we are strong...

    1. oh i love that quote -- thank you, fellow pilgrim!!

      reminds me of something i read a while ago that said that humility isn't thinking less of ourselves, or lowly of ourselves. it's thinking about God INSTEAD of ourselves.

      like you said, pride is indeed a beast that lurks around every. single. corner. and sadly, in our society, it's encouraged & rewarded.

      thank you so much for taking the time to reach out with your words of encouragement today,


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