March 31, 2013

Eating Vegetables

This week I have the pleasure of introducing you to Cary!  Cary and I have attended the same church for quite a few years but we never hung out on a regular basis until recently.  She's one of those ladies you admire from afar and wish to spend more time with.  Last fall we finally both pulled out our calendars and have been able to plan a few fun nights together.  I'm so thankful for her vulnerability and desire to maintain an eternal perspective.  I hope and pray you are each encouraged by what she has to share!

My name is Cary and I have one son, Joel, who is almost two. He's a fairly easy-going toddler and my husband and I (both introverts) are pretty convinced he'll take after us. He warms up to people pretty quickly and isn't clingy but he prefers to hang back and watch before jumping in. It's really fun to watch the wheels turn in his little head and try to see how God has uniquely made and gifted him.

You need to know a little background about me to fully appreciate the situation I've chosen to write about for this blog post. Until the last few weeks, I did not eat any vegetables. EVER. As in, I had very strong gagging reactions to them as a child and my mother, for a variety of reasons, decided to not to push me to learn to eat them. So I have gone basically the last thirty years without consuming any vegetables. No corn, no carrots, no salads, no sweet potatoes, nothing. I believe that multivitamins are one of God's biggest gifts for picky eaters and I marvel at the way he designed our bodies to be able to survive and thrive on sub-optimal diets. I do not recommend this lifestyle but I do want to say all of my blood work while not eating vegetables was completely normal, I am in decent shape, I had a healthy pregnancy, and if you are worried your child will become malnourished from not eating vegetables, I am living proof that it probably won't happen.

Now that is out of the way, you can understand a little bit the amount of fear and trepidation I felt when introducing vegetables to Joel as a baby. How was I going to expect him to eat something I didn't? To my relief, he gobbled up all of the pureed beans, peas, carrots and squash I gave him. However, as a toddler he has been much more reluctant to eat vegetables in their solid form.

When he first started refusing vegetables, I could feel my blood pressure skyrocket. Then fear, panic and anger took over. Fear that I was failing a mom. Panic that I didn't know how to handle this situation. Fear that Joel would be doomed to repeat my past. Anger that I couldn't control this little person anymore. Fear, panic, anger. All sins I struggle with that go back to the lie that any of us are ultimately in control and could be enough, do enough, or even eat enough vegetables to be perfect. It sounds ridiculous when I write it out like that but I find myself believing that lie over and over again. My idol of control has me placing my assurance in how well I can manage the little things and has me blinded to the most important things in life, most of which are ultimately out of my control anyhow!

This scenario with Joel tempted (and still tempts) me to become exactly the type of parent and person that I desperately don't want to be. In my life I don't want to fight for good things, only to miss what is best. I don't want to have a this-world-is-all-there-is mindset. I don't want to be like the Jewish authorities in John 18 who took Jesus to Pontius Pilate but wouldn't enter the governor's headquarters for fear of defiling themselves. They wanted to make sure crucifying Jesus didn't technically break any laws about appropriate behavior and get in the way of their ability to celebrate Passover. They followed all of the rules they were taught for right behavior and loved the praise of men. They did everything "right" but missed the most important thing right in front of them: Jesus. They were literally more worried about appearing righteous and controlling all of the little externals of their lives, even as they were putting the Son of God to death. Talk about missing the big eternal picture!

Yes, I want Joel to obey and eat vegetables but what I have learned is that I don't want to care more about his external obedience than about his heart. Obedience is important and can reveal what is going on in the heart, but I have been challenged by Dr. Tim Kimmel's book Grace Based Parenting to remember that not every thing is a moral issue. I think this is another way of paraphrasing Ephesians 6:4 about not exasperating your children but instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. I don't have Grace Based Parenting on hand to refer to a specific page (I checked it out from the library), but here is a quote from Dr. Kimmel's website:

"Kids inside homes where non-moral issues are elevated to a level of big problems don't get to experience the kind of acceptance that makes a heart feel securely loved. Instead they live with a barrage of nitpicking criticism, receiving put-downs because they are curious, anxious, excited, helpless, carefree, or absent-minded. When we receive our children as they are, we reflect the kind of love that God has for them. It's the kind of love that will carry them through the good times and the bad times for the rest of their lives."

I have recently started occupational therapy to learn how to eat vegetables so I can set a good example for Joel and provide healthier meals at home. Honestly, it is not going easily or quickly. I am reminding myself that Joel will need to look beyond my example and even beyond himself for the truest example of how to live. I don't want to artificially turn the issue of eating vegetables into a moral issue. I want him to be obedient but ultimately I want to care most about his character and heart for God so that he knows that is truly the only thing that matters. Like it or not, he will take many of his cues from me and I want him to know that I love him, that I will show him grace, and that every day I will radiate a true and authentic love for Jesus.

I wasn't raised in a home where I saw an unabashed love for Jesus spilling into every area of life. I'm not sure exactly what that looks like in the context of Joel eating vegetables, but I'm guessing it looks more peaceful and less anxious, more full of grace and less temptation to anger, and more thankful to Jesus for providing both physically and spiritually. I am trying to redeem meals and figure out how to make them about Jesus. Recently I have started reading to Joel from The Jesus Storybook Bible over a meal. It is a good reminder to me that even if he isn't eating the foods I wish he would eat, he is being nourished by the Bread of Life. And that is exactly the mother I pray to be able to be for him.


Samantha said...

Love this so much!

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | ewa network review