One of my doctors suggested I try a Mediterranean Diet after I had been diagnosed with a spontaneous carotid artery dissection. “Spontaneous” is the operative word here because it just happened and no one knows why. It’s rare for people my age without some kind of underlying genetic disease or physical trauma like a car accident. I had neither.
I have nothing against the Mediterranean Diet. I like to eat fish and appreciate a plan that includes red wine. For a few days, I considered it. I wanted to be excited– to have some new regimen that would fix the broken parts of me. I read a few articles that outlined the diet. I even ate some walnuts. While I desperately want to heal, my diet is not the problem. Whatever caused my artery to spontaneously dissect had nothing to do with what I ate. I thought about the years I spent as a vegetarian, my almost-daily exercise routine, the half-marathons I had run, and the complete randomness of what happened — I realized I was basically that cliché of the uber-healthy person who drops dead. Only I didn’t die. By God’s grace, I am still here.
What I need most is not a new diet but to accept that we can’t control or fix everything (or sometimes much of anything). I’ve spent so much of my life not being spontaneous – thinking that if I followed the rules, the outline, the diet, and the plan, then I would be safe. Of course, these things matter and it’s important to not be reckless with our lives or the lives of others. It’s just that we can easily get so focused on the regimen that we forget the reason for it. I knew it wasn’t legumes and olives or even wine I needed. It was ice cream.
Ice cream makes me happy. I needed to remember that even though everything felt scary, life’s joy was still abundant. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,” James 1:2. Sometimes in life – especially in our faith lives, we get so caught up in the rules, the rituals, and the regimen that we forget the reason for it all. We forget the joy of God. We forget that he can redeem the worst of our suffering. He can transform the broken. He can restore and heal us. That is the good news of our faith.
Dealing with so much terrible, I could have easily forgotten to look for the good – to trust that God is going to use this to teach me something important – to transform me in ways that I am still yet to understand. Instead of following the regimen of another diet when I already had healthy eating habits, I decided a better plan is to eat more ice cream. I know ice cream is not God and I know its satisfaction is fleeting. Still, it reminds me to seek joy always, and, in that way, it brings me back to God. It helps me remember that the sweetest parts of our earthly lives offer only a mere taste of what awaits. Besides, ice cream tastes better than walnuts.
Especially during these hard and heated days that so many of us are struggling with, it’s important to find joy where we can. Where are you finding joy these days? ~ Lara
Read Faith in Quarantine.