Monday, June 27, 2016

Freshman Fifteen

Arriving at Mars Hill College as a freshman was an exciting time.  However, in no time at all I soon put on the dreaded freshman fifteen.  In hindsight, it was probably the ice cream - the cool, creamy smooth goodness called to me every time I set foot in the Cafe'.  I was in my happy place and at least three times a day, I ate ice cream.  For breakfast, I would eat cereal with vanilla ice cream because, really, what is ice cream but cold milk with a little sugar and vanilla flavoring? Ice cream was the perfect breakfast food.  Lunch was always followed by a cone of mint chocolate chip that I ate as I was walking to my afternoon classes.  Dinner was a relaxing time where my friends and I sat around chatting after dinner with a generous bowl of cookies and cream.   If you asked me at the time- I would happily talk about how awesome ice cream was and how happy it made me.   Little did I know my ice cream habit was harmful to me and even affecting my relationships. It is amazing to think that I had any friends when I ate ice cream three meals a day. Seriously, my friend Loren called me "Oh Gaseous One"!  Yes, they are still my friends!

Flash forward twenty years, I have made a complete 180 degree change.  After my youngest son was born, I dealt with a child who didn't sleep through the night and was constantly projectile vomiting. It was tough. Out of desperation, I began an elimination diet that consisted of rice and plain chicken for two weeks.  He improved and I learned that I was lactose intolerant. What an eye opening experience!

In hindsight,  I had been given hints.  I ate cream cheese sandwiches on white bread with milk everyday for lunch in 7th grade. I remember coming home from school sincerely asking my mom why I had gas and she in a matter of fact way said, "Everyone has gas." So I thought it was normal and continued on in my dairy induced haze.  Several years before my youngest was born, my sweet mother- in-law mentioned I might be lactose intolerant. With absolute sincerity, I explained I couldn't be lactose intolerant because I ate milk all the time. As I reflect on my absolute blindness to my lactose sensitivity, I can't help but compare it to spiritual blindness to sin before Christ. 

Ephesians 4:17,18 says "Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart."

This passage from Ephesians that points out that we must no longer walk as Gentiles do.  They walk in ignorance and they can't see the truth.   I spent a lot of years in ignorance of a real problem in my life. I really thought I was normal.  Unless God opens someone's eyes to places of sin in their lives, they probably think they are normal too. 

We get used to the stench of sin.  Our society is saturated with it. Our parents can pass on patterns of sin just the way my parents, who are from Wisconsin, passed on a love of all things dairy. As we grow in our relationship with Christ, God will open our eyes to the places in our lives that need to change.  

Ephesians 4 : 20-24 continues with an encouragement that in Christ we don't have to continue in old patterns and habits. "But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness."

This is an encouraging passage. We can change the unhealthy and corrupt spiritual patterns in our lives and put on the holiness and righteousness of Christ. 

"Deceitful desires" from verse 22 is a phrase that resonates with me as I think about my desire for ice cream.  I honestly thought it was a good desire. But the truth is that I was deceived by my tastebuds that were corrupted by constantly eating sweets and by the general acceptance of the people around me. It took me a long time to realize that ice cream didn't do my body any good!  Just because it made me happy, didn't mean it was good for me.  All that sugar wasn't doing me any good and I have learned that in some people milk can cause inflammation, limit absorption of iron and bind to opioid receptors in the brain creating a craving that is good for babies so they eat and slept better.  It is interesting that I found out many of the problems with milk- after I gave it up.  Often the full consequences of sin aren't revealed till we are no longer caught in the deception.  

It took me a while to lose that Freshman fifteen.  It wasn't easy -God had to literally change my taste buds and change my desires.  It hasn't been perfect and until about five years ago, it was still a struggle. As newlywed, I got very frustrated with my husband because he couldn't understand why I needed six half gallons of ice cream at all times.  It has been a journey- God has given me a desire for things that are good and pure and taught me how to "taste and see that the Lord is good. (Psalm 34:8)" It has been blessed, God has revealed places of sin that are holding me back from fully experiencing his presence and when I give up the deceitfully desirable things for the infinitely valuable I have been abundantly blessed and so have the people around me.

It was hard for me to see places of spiritual and physical blindness.  Have you experienced God showing you things that need to change in your life?

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