Have you ever recited back to a pastor or sung a worship song with words like “free indeed” or “free from the chains”? The longer I follow Christ, the more “ah-ha” moments happen when the deeper meaning of a verse comes into clear focus. And in this stage of life, it is usually something about my kids that brings the focus.
For 5 years my youngest has been on a restricted diet. At first the list of foods we had to avoid was long and overwhelming: egg, soy, dairy, kidney beans, blueberries, peanuts and gluten. When I initially received the list, I collapsed and sobbed. Nothing on our current menus met these restrictions. God slowly provided resources and the diet the became manageable. Three years ago we were able to reintroduce all the food, except gluten.
|Above: Bug’s preschool graduation cake, provided by her teacher.
The cupcakes in the left are her gf treat. I don’t have the
gift of decorating so my gf treats were never as pretty
Other moms would praise my dedication to the diet, but I knew they just didn’t have the right perspective. What mom wouldn’t cook gluten-free if it made her child healthier and happier? Still, both my daughter and I took on on unnecessary burdens.
I was overwhelmed by the number of places people gave kids food: every play date, twice during all-day kindergarten, every party, every fair, every soccer game, every church activity. And I wanted her food to be similar to the food provided. If it was a birthday party at Chuck E Cheese, I would bring in gf pizza and a gf cupcake. Sometimes though, it would be cupcake day at Sunday school and the snack organizer would forget to tell me and I would have brought crackers because that was the usual snack. I was always more upset by the ostensible injustice than Bug. Sometimes I would even ask Bird to eat the gluten-free treats at a party so her sister (and myself) would feel better. Bug kept a plastic bin of gf treats in her locker because the teacher rarely was notified before a birthday treat arrived (it had to be plastic so the mice wouldn’t eat them).
One observant boy in Bug’s Kindergarten class kept telling Bug she was rude. He had been taught to eat treats and say thankful. To leave the room and get your own treat was a behavior he knew wasn’t on the polite list. I completely understood the boy’s misunderstanding, but he wouldn’t stop and every time I saw him I wanted to yell, “Just stop it!”
Traveling was burdensome too. Airports and off-the-interstate restaurants rarely had gluten-free food. And if they did, Bug did not want a baked chicken breast when Bird had mac and cheese. On every trip, including Honduras, I brought bags (or suitcases) of gluten-free food.
I wavered between not wanting my daughter to feel left out and knowing that this was her life, she needed to be thankful for all the food she could eat and stop feeling sorry for herself. I carried that worry like a lead-weight on my shoulders.
This summer, I knew Bug was unhappy with her diet. She wanted to eat gluten. Her food restrictions were food sensitivities, not true allergies. Hoping to avoid a food-sneaking problem, I decided to let her eat gluten. If the experiment failed, hopefully the ill-effects of eating gluten would be extreme enough that she wouldn’t want to eat gluten. The experiment did not fail, she’s been eating gluten since July. I am trying to sell my stock pile of gluten-free breads and flours and have quit ignoring the hope that this diet has ended.
Once the hope moved in, freedom in Christ took on a more profound meaning:
- John 8:36, So if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.
Life literally feel lighter. Daily activities, including budgeting, is easier. The number of things to think about before going somewhere decreased. And I realized that when we accept Christ and he forgives our sins, this same lifting of burdens happens. Problem is, some of us accept Christ at a lifestage where we do not even recognize what we have been freed from. I am grateful for the reminder.
I wonder what lessons you’ve learned from the life of your kids lately?