It’s been a hard month. Writing has been so hard. But it has also, I think, never been so necessary. You’ve got me in the vulnerable places. And I can’t guarantee I’m going to say the right thing. But I can guarantee I am going to say the most honest thing. I remember years ago when I first started writing. Years before I even began to think of publishing. I just wrote for me. To get thoughts on paper, and out of this cage I called a head. I remember then my fear of vulnerability. And that’s another blog for another day. But I remember how much God impressed upon me the necessity of it. “I made you to be a storyteller,” He told me. “Tell your stories. With your whole heart. That’s all I’m asking.” And from that day on, that has been my motive. To tell this story the best way I can, with the most truth I can. Life is a fickle thing. It wavers and shifts. It ebbs and flows. And sometimes it just downright hammers and chips away at us. There is no perfect formula because we are each different. And the pain I ingest one way you will ingest another. And there is no one way to do things. Except, in Him. He is the only one way that agrees to all of us. And I don’t have answers. I have questions. I have emotions. I have hormones. I have needs. I don’t have answers. But He does. He always does. And in Him there is fullness. There is joy. So I’m telling you this to say that I may not have the answers, and I’m asking for grace as I walk these coming days vulnerable and honest and visible. I am probably going to make mistakes. But I am always going to point back to Him. He is my answer. He is my joy. He is my life. Everything else is just icing. And I believe He likes icing. So I know I will get my cakes with icing too. But for right now, as I walk through this wilderness all I need are the basics. And I’m OK with that. Cloud of smoke by day. Pillar of fire by night. I just need the basics.
Pain has come to an all time high. Sleep became my pain management. The more I slept, the more I could ignore the passing realities. And so I gave into the exhaustion. I let my body slip in and out of consciousness, as a meager opportunity to forget current pain. And then I’d awake once a day starving, ravenous, ready to eat.
Food became and has become a bully to me. It is the thing that taunts me and rubs in my face all that I want, and all that I can’t have. It’s not just the food, although that in itself is enough. It is what the food represents: Life, joy, normalcy. I find myself watching people on such a critical level these days. Every move, every twitch, every flip of hair and reaction of face. And in those moments I find myself anxious to study why they are different. What did they do different?. Why do they get to be healthy and I don’t? Why can they eat, why can they eat whatever they so choose without a thought to the reaction? It is low to admit, but I have found myself jealous of babies multiple times as I watch them pick their squares of cheese and assorted vegetables and cram eagerly and satisfied into their mouths. And I try to distinguish what I have done that makes my body so unwilling to cooperate and theirs so eager to the opposite.
And so we come back to that time of day, every day. When my stomach can no longer ignore the call for food, and hunger takes on an almost animal reaction. I dread that part of the day. Because I know that whatever decision I make it will be the wrong one. If I don’t eat, if I ignore it, the pains come. Mixed with the nausea of a blood sugar level much too low. I leave myself to dry heaving and blackouts. And the mind games that follow from just wanting so much to eat. If I do eat, it does not matter what I choose, I will get sick. I have tried broths, and juices, vegetables, fruits. And some days I just give up caring and choose what sounds good. Big, hearty, casseroles of the soul that make me feel like I’m not really living this life that I am trying so hard to avoid. And then I get sick. And it is a choking sick. It is a crippling sick. Pain that curls me up onto the floor gasping, retching, begging for relief. Sometimes it lasts only a few minutes. Sometimes it lasts much longer. And if there is any good in it, it is that I am so exhausted afterwards I am able to sleep again for several hours. Able to escape again.
Food just doesn’t taste the same. It tastes like fear, like pain, like regret. And the hungrier I get, the less sounds appealing. I sat on my deck watching the wind between the leaves this morning. I sat and we talked. “Food doesn’t taste good anymore. Nothing tastes good anymore,” I told Him. “When will it taste good. Will anything ever taste good again?” I sat with Him on that porch swing and we rocked while the breeze swirled around us.
What do we do when life no longer tastes good? What do we do when the pain overtakes beauty? When the mundane becomes reality and suddenly there is no longer pleasure on the tongue, on the soul, but bitterness that takes its place? What do we do when grief is greater than joy? What do we do then?
Food is such a basic necessity of humanity. It is the quickest reminder of these practical bodies. It is the quickest reminder of a soul hungry for more. To be satisfied. To be filled. It is what we were made for. And lest we forget, our ever grumbling stomachs are there to remind us. Or is it our ever grumbling souls? They grumbled through the wilderness. And the manna fell. And they grumbled again. And the quail fell. And they grumbled again. Filling, and filling their baskets full, their bellies full, only to watch the manna spoil before them as they took more and more never satisfied. And we do the same. Grumbling through the wilderness. And the manna comes. The bread of life. Taste and see that the Lord is good. But instead we stand and stare and whisper, “What is it?” Taste and see that the Lord is good! And still we stand to the side. “What is it?” Taste and see that the Lord is good. When do we reach out. When do we partake of the miracle He has brought to the dessert? The bread with which we can live on for years. The only food that sustains? When do we fill our baskets, fill our bellies, fill our souls, and know that it is good?
It is not the food I am hungry for. It is life I am hungry for. Life abundant. And time and time again, His manna falls from heaven. Taste and see that the Lord is good, He says. And I only stare. I do not partake. I do not taste. My grievances become greater than my joy, and I am blinded to the goodness. Oh may my hunger never leave. May it stir this belly inside of me, this eternal soul. May it grow and grow until I reach out, until I realize that man shall not live on bread alone. No there is far more to be benefited from. The truth? I am fed. I am full. I am satisfied. I know hope because of His calling. I know riches because of His glory. I know power because of His resurrection. And I know fullness because He fills all. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Taste and see. Do not stare at it. Do not stand to the side and whisper, “What is it?” Do not watch from the sidelines, while the mediocrity of culture eats away at your fullness. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Dig your hands into the Bread of Life, falling from heaven into the souls of men. We are hungry no more. Life abounds and we are filled. Oh that our eyes would see, and our lens be changed. Oh that we would taste and know that the Lord is good. He is my fill. And in Him is my fullness. And I am hungry no more.
Psalm 34:8 | Ephesians 1:15-23