Driving home on the freeway the other night something occurred to me, in one of those deeper level understanding moments of a pretty simple concept: if all you do is take away, soon enough you'll have nothing left.
The context of this thought was what made it so startling. I was thinking about how this year I've struggled with my body. Like hard struggled. I've had to adapt what I eat because of how my body started to respond to certain foods. And as I took away these "bad" foods (and it felt like so many) I started on a vicious cycle of rebellion and shame eating. Ugh. Confession is hard.
I would eat "good food" and look shamingly on all the glutenous and soy laden foods I couldn't have anymore and feel good about how well I was choosing to avoid them. And for a while I had a lot of success. My body started working right again and I felt great ... until life got hard and complicated. You know, the stuff: student loans, broken cars, changing jobs. The stability I relied on to continue choosing to only eat "good food" eroded and I found myself "cheating" with a bagel or tortilla chips (the rebellion part of my cycle).
So I'd fall off the bandwagon, feel guilty, try to start again and inevitably fail again because my external stability hadn't returned. I was expecting different results without changing the system that got me there.
And so in this drive I realized when my body broke and I needed a change I started hacking and slashing trying to get the "bad foods" out -- but I never added back in good foods that I enjoyed let alone starting slowly and incrementally. I took a jump in the deep end then learn to swim approach and it nearly drowned me.
So I wondered: What if I pulled back a little, built in some grace (and a bagel here and there), added some delicious new options (like quinoa Greek salad), and structured some stability in places I could control (like my time) so that I was both giving and taking. Balance. Sustainability.
As I began writing this blog this morning it made me wonder how the same principle applies in my relationship with Jesus. If I only focus on what's broken I won't have the foresight to add in or embrace healing and restoration. And in my experience I find Jesus more often in the in between rather than in my hack and slash, dive in before I know how to swim efforts. I think this is called growing in wisdom; learning my capacities and limits. I'm so grateful Jesus isn't calling me to the same harshness I saddle myself with.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG)