When I was growing up in the 80’s, you would find three drink staples in our refrigerator, most likely above the nitrate-filled hotdogs – milk, of course, sweet tea, and red Kool Aid. Yes, the kind with food dye Red 40 in it. The pantry was no different. There were rows of canned cream-of-mushroom soup and green beans, white loaf bread, and there may even be some Vienna sausages now and again.
We had never heard the initials GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) even though our food was full of them, especially after the fat-free craze. That’s when my mom replaced our Little Debbie snack cakes with fat-free cookies. The chemicals took the place of the fat.
But since then there’s been a change. Even more specifically, I’d say in the past five years there’s been a change. Now, not only do we recognize the label “Non-GMO” on our food, but we also recognize the terms “all natural,” “USDA organic,” “gluten free,” “whole foods,” “clean eating,” and “100% whole grain.” And that’s not all. No longer do we use chemicals to clean our toilets, we use concoctions of homemade, all-natural recipes. We’re shunned from disposable diapers and encouraged to use cloth. If you want to take it a step further, there are a variety of chemical-free toothpastes, shampoos, deodorants, lotions, and makeup from which you can choose. The list is endless.
For the past two years, every time I walk into the grocery store I feel like having a panic attack. I’m afraid of buying the wrong product, the product that will give my child ADHD or give me cancer. I walk the aisles, pick up a product, analyze the fact that “organic” means “double the price,” carry it around, wonder if my husband will kill me for paying that much for it, and then either put it back or take the chance and buy it. I’m going to die either way, right?
Then one day I opened Facebook, and my anxiety catapulted to an all-time peak. The article was entitled, “A Non-Toxic Alternative to Nail Polish for Mommies & Little Girls.” I stared at the words and thought, “You have to be kidding me?”
I was not at all angry with the blog owner, who is actually a friend of mine, for posting the article. I didn’t think the article was unnecessary or unimportant. My anxiety came from fear I had already developed, fear of not perfectly providing for my family so that they never got sick, developed a disease, or died. Nail polish became one more product I was going to have to worry about and spend too much money on in order to preserve my family’s health.
In this moment I knew I had to change my mindset. I was driving myself crazy.
One of my biggest pet peeves after I had my daughter was when older women would make comments such as, “Well, we never (you fill in the blank), and our children turned out fine!” I think this is lazy thinking and an excuse to not strive for improvement with new information. I didn’t want to have that mindset when it came to chemical-free living. It is wonderful that we have the science, research and technology to make wiser choices than we did twenty years ago. However, even with all of these advances, nothing changes the fact that we are not God, and that’s exactly who I was trying to be. I was trying to play god over my family’s health.
God wants us to be good stewards of our knowledge, resources, and bodies. Like in the parable of the five talents, we are blessed when we are faithful with what God has given us. “And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master’” Matthew 25:20-21.
At the same time, it is easy to take our talents - our knowledge, resources, and bodies – and make them idols in our lives. When we attempt to control these gifts from God, we begin to live out of our flesh instead of from the Holy Spirit within us. It produces fear, anxiety, perfectionism, pride, and a judgmental spirit. Instead of focusing on God’s grace in our health, we allow our pride to tell us that our health is from our own good choices, and we criticize others for different choices. We begin to fear the future instead of remembering that God is sovereign over all aspects of our lives. And we develop a stronghold of perfectionism because of the anxiety that threatens if we make a “bad” choice.
As blessed as we are to live in a time when we have knowledge and resources, we must remember God is still sovereign. He is in control of every aspect of our lives - when we make healthy choices and when we don’t. Romans 11:36 says, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever.” It does not honor God to strive to preserve our lives by making His blessings idols. Instead, He wants us to continue under the umbrella of grace knowing that everything good in our lives comes from Him.
“I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things” (Isaiah 45:5-7).
Related Post: Health Food Heresy: When Eating Healthy Becomes Your God
Brenda Rodgers considers herself a “recovering single” after years as a single woman chasing after marriage instead of chasing after Jesus. Now her passion is to mentor young women to live purposefully and grow in their relationship with God and others. Brenda has been married for five years to a heart transplant hero and is the mom of a toddler girl miracle. She is also the author of the eBook Fall for Him: 25 Challenges from a Recovering Single. You can also read more on Brenda’s blog, www.TripleBraidedLife.com and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.