The fear started when I got pregnant with my first. I honestly thought I was already fairly healthy until I started reading… and couldn’t stop.
I read up on what medicine is safe while pregnant (after being prescribed something by my doc that I never should’ve taken) and found endless contradictory information. I read up on supplements and discovered that they are not all created equal. In fact, some are completely useless. I read about what real food is and how much junk is hiding in those ingredient lists. I read about vaccine safety, childhood diseases and issues that could arise during childbirth.
I watched documentaries like The Business of Being Born and Fed Up. I learned about the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen. I learned a lot about antibiotic resistance and the super liberal use of pharmaceuticals in this country. I learned about the pros and cons of fluoride and how important gut health is to overall health. You could read and read and read forever and never get to the end.
I had realized this enormous passion for healthy living which was being driven by the need to know more so that I could give my child the healthiest start possible.
Now here’s the confession part. For the first year or two (ok, three?) on this path I was 1000% driven by fear. I was soaking up all the information I could find so that I could do everything in my power to prevent my child (and future children) from suffering from a disease or cancer.
I read about a study performed in 2008 at the University of Texas, M.D. that determined, “Only 5-10% of all cancer cases can be attributed to genetic defects, whereas the remaining 90-95% have their roots in the environment and lifestyle.” Since then many studies and publications have backed and confirmed these findings. 90-95% of cancer cases are preventable?!
This only fueled me more. It made me think that I had even more control over my family’s health. I just had to do #allthethings I was reading about.
What’s funny is that as a born again Christian, I put so many pieces of my life into God’s hands without even flinching. My kid’s future? Sure! My kid’s faith walk? Absolutely. My kid’s career and spouse choice? Happy to pray that over. But my kid’s health? Nope. I’ve got that one, Lord. I can make sure that they don’t get sick or end up with cancer by how I feed them and support their immune systems. I’ll let them play in the dirt and forego any unnecessary prescriptions. We’ll buy high quality local food, avoid pesticides and pass on GMOs. I can read enough and do enough. I’ve got this. Well, let me tell you. That was getting me nowhere fast.
First of all, the information is FOREVER changing along with technology. Just follow any one nutrition trend and you’ll see that what is recommended is almost fluid. We’re learning about the dangers of environmental toxins so much so that the market has completely shifted. Gone are the days of needing Whole Foods to get your organic and humane purchases. Now I can pop over to Walmart or Target and find many good options. The average housewife now knows what parabens and phthalates are thanks to the internet literally being at our fingertips.
Information is just so wildly available now. And there’s so dang much of it. So I reached a point where I was tired. I was tired of making all of our food from scratch. I was tired from staying up late and reading about recalled medications. I was tired of cringing every time someone offered my child another version of corn, sugar and food dye packaged up in a candy wrapper. And I had to give it up. Not give up my crunchy mama status (definitely not that) but give up the fear. I had to give up the illusion of control.
I had to give my kids back to the One who created them. I had to change my mindset from trying to prevent sickness to wanting to be a good steward of these bodies that Christ died for. What a fantastic flip of the script.
What if I kept reading and kept researching with the goal of loving myself and my kids well? What if we choose to serve God by taking care of ourselves so that we’re better able to do His work? What if I believe in science and statistics but also know in my heart of hearts that He has conquered the world and He can conquer anything that comes my way?
What freedom there is in that! It’s tempting to regret the time I wasted in fear but I think I had to go through it. What’s that saying, “The sweet isn’t as sweet without the sour”? The freedom to leave our health at His feet feels so good after feeling weighed down by it for so long.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” I do not believe that when Jesus was hanging on the cross, He was picturing us laying on our couches eating chips. I think He was thinking we would LIVE. We would love on others and use every day to further His name.
That scripture in Corinthians is so often used when discussing sexual immorality, excessive drinking or recreational drug use. But what about overeating? What about taking medication after medication to treat symptoms and not addressing the root of the problem? What about laziness?
If you’re like the old me and you’re currently fueled by a fear of disease or cancer, I challenge you to think about your body as His instead of yours and see how that changes your outlook. Maybe our exercise and nutrition goals should not be focused on our outward appearance or a number on a scale but rather at overall wellness.
If you’re not living a healthy lifestyle, I challenge you to think about why. Romans 12: 1-1 says, “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.”
What changes could you start with today? Going for a walk instead of watching TV? Choosing a second veggie instead of a starch? Swapping soda for a big old jug of filtered water? It doesn’t have to be drastic. Let’s learn and grow and be good stewards of our bodies so as not spend one day wasting what we’ve been generously given.
John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. AMEN!