So my family and I took on clean eating in its simplest form this year for Lent, and it has opened a floodgate of information, emotions, and paradigm shifts for every single one of us. One of my friends likened it to Morpheus’s red pill, and he is exactly right. I feel like the scales have fallen from my eyes – and the new world I am seeing is rugged, powerful, and teeming with vigorous new life.
I began phasing into clean eating shortly before my girls did, because I wanted to go through all the hard parts and feel my best in order to support them properly. These were noble intentions, but they turned out to be wholly unnecessary. I did not face the migraines, fatigue, or listlessness that previous fasts / diets brought on. Turns out, my body didn’t want the old way as much as I thought it did, and with a newly sufficient supply of produce and all its nutrients in my system, I began to feel better almost immediately.
What I did crave, in a surprisingly fervent way, was knowledge. I binge-watched half a dozen documentaries and testimonials (my personal favorites being Hungry for Change, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, and nearly everything Joel Salatin ever said), and still look for new ones every day. I also read every clean eating webpage I could find, and organized my recipe box to make room for all of the exciting new foods we were taking into our kitchen. I actually enjoyed eating a parsnip, people! It’s a whole new day.
The most surprising revelation of all, however, has been the unparalleled freedom I am experiencing. I’ll admit it: of the three pillars of Lent, the one I have always gravitated toward the most is fasting. There is a part of me that is still, every day, trying to earn my way into God’s favor. I am good at rending my garments and covering my head with ashes, yet it is always accompanied by constant side-eyes at God, hoping I am gaining brownie points through my sacrifices and sorrow. So yeah, when I came upon clean eating in my search for nutrition and health solutions, I easily targeted Lent as a starting point – you know, so my suffering would be all holy and everything.
Instead – get this! – I am having FUN. I am trying new things, visiting new places, meeting new people…even seeing new sides of those already in my closest circles. Most exciting of all: There are no Nos for me anymore. There is no list of food I can’t eat! Sure, I have an ever-evolving list of foods I don’t want to eat, but it’s not because of any mandate or legalism; it is my own decision based on what I have learned about food and what goes into it (if you, as I, am still in the dark about this truth, please watch Food, Inc. as soon as humanly possible). I can have whatever I want; I choose to eat that which is good, healthful, and free of toxins and bad intent.
And you know what? I don’t even miss the old stuff. There is nothing that Big Food or any other world system can offer me – no taste, treat, buzz, or sense of satisfaction – that is not only available, but actually better and more fulfilling when I get it naturally, as close to God’s original form as possible. Pizza, macaroni and cheese, hamburgers and french fries…we still can and do eat all of the things we love, and we enjoy them with far more appreciation now.
Doesn’t that sound exactly like God’s original design, all the way back to the garden? Now that I’ve seen this, I can’t believe I was blind to it for so long. It’s like a hidden picture or word puzzles. I can never NOT see it again.
The point of fasting is not merely to abstain. This is a lesson I have been missing for nearly forty years. The point of fasting – at Lent or anytime – is to make room for God to do something new in my heart and/or life. After all of that striving and fear, I think I finally am getting it right for the first time.
I am SO glad that I finally took the red pill…more soon!