Every Monday morning, well almost every Monday morning, Allison, Stacey and I get together for a ladies Biblestudy group, sort of. I don’t really know what to call it, we’ve never really defined it. The basic jist is we go through books together. We started with Crazy Love by Francis Chan, then Tune In by Jen Hatmaker, and then Grace for the Good Girl by Emily Freeman and now we have moved onto 7 by Jen Hatmaker. We love this book. It’s brutally honest, real and challenging. Jen Hatmaker undertook the challenge of picking seven areas of her life and only do/eat/wear/watch 7 items from each category for a month. The first category was food. For one month Jen only ate seven foods. Her list was apples, wheat bread, avocados, spinach, eggs, sweet potatoes and chicken. For one month she ate these things and recorded what she felt and experienced along the way. Her book is adaptation of what she posted on her blog about her “experimental mutiny against excess”. Jen was fasting from our culture of excess and trying to make room for the Holy Spirit in her life.
Well, one chapter in and we decided that just reading this book isn’t going to be enough for our lives, sot he three of us are engaging in this same journey, though slightly modified. For three days we will be eating only seven items. This was actually my idea and I have to say there are times where I wonder what on earth I am thinking. We each wound up substituting an item on Jen’s list because Allison is allergic to apples, I can’t eat avocado without gagging and Stacey decided to do rice instead of wheat because the vast majority of the world (especially the poor) subsist on rice, not wheat.
Today is day one and it hasn’t been so bad so far. I had eggs for breakfast which did involve getting up earlier than usual, but only by 10 minutes (a rather minor sacrifice, especially considering I was having a nightmare that just wouldn’t go away this morning, involving werewolves of all things). I usually have cereal with a banana on top for breakfast. An easy breakfast that I eat at work because it’s easy to dump two cups of cereal into a tupperware container and slice up a banana over the top of it when I get to work. I usually sit at my desk and eat my breakfast while the computer loads and look over my to-do list for the day. Well, eggs don’t travel as well as cereal, so it meant eating at home. It was fine though, I still got to work on time. The part I did not enjoy was having to drink water with my breakfast. I’m actually anti-coffee so I don’t have to worry about caffeine withdrawal, but water in the morning just doesn’t taste good. I actually love drinking water the rest of the day. I drink it all day at work with no problems, but for some reason first thing in the morning it just tastes weird. I usually drink juice, but juice is not on the seven list. So water it is. Lunch isn’t so bad either. Since I substituted peanut butter for avocados I have some to put on my wheat toast and my apple. The true worry was dinner. Sweet potatoes, spinach and chicken breast with only salt & pepper for seasoning. The spinach was, well sort of forced down with bites of chicken and sweet potato helping along the way. I was surprised by how much the sweet potato didn’t upset me either. I’m not really much of a sweet potato fan. My mother doesn’t really like them, so we never had them much as kids growing up. Fast forward to now and I don’t really have much a taste for them. I just like red & white potatoes better. Never the less, I plugged on, seasoned with a little salt & pepper and I had a perfectly lovely dinner.
In case you are wondering why I decided it was necessary to engage in this little endeavor along with the writer, the answer is because I needed something different. When the idea popped into my head that we could try to engage in the same experiment with each category for three days after reading a chapter, my heart wasn’t really into it. I don’t even know why I thought of it, to be perfectly honest. In fact, my heart hasn’t been into a whole lot lately except selfish pursuits. For the past two weeks I have seriously struggled to eat in a healthy manner. I was choosing convenience and cravings over health and nourishment. I knew it was wrong, I knew I would pay for it later, but still I did it anyway. Even last night, when I was grocery shopping I decided I needed to give myself a “last meal” of sorts, so I bought myself a frozen pizza and some Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. Way to prepare your heart Jill. Walking around grocery store in the United States, it is easy to see how we are a nation of wealth and excess. Seriously, there is food everywhere in that place. And the sad part is that most of it has been packaged and processed to the point that my great-great grandparents would not even recognize it as food. And yet I consume it, regularly. Daily. What on earth. But the heart of this matter, this project, my heart in the matter, is that I need to be emptied. I need to be emptied of the access to excess to make room for the Holy Spirit. I need to acknowledge that I am bombarded, tempted and talked into eating to the excess and I will spend my days being utterly ungrateful for the work and sacrifice it took for that food to wind up in my belly. I need to see my diet for what it truly is, a selfish acknowledgement of what the world says I deserve, not the wonderful gift of a loving Savior who only desires the best for me. But maybe, just maybe for the next three days I can focus on what I am receiving from this food from God. Maybe I can see what a miracle it is to watch something that was a mere seed grow into a plant that has the power to sustain my life. Maybe I can see the food on plate not just as a piece of protein, but the sacrifice of the life of another being for my own benefit and welfare. Maybe, I can learn to be grateful.