Almost two years ago, my father passed away. Right around that time, my oldest child, an older teen, started a cold-turkey diet of eating clean: no sugars, no preservatives, and organic whenever possible. Mostly fruits and vegetables. Lean meats. He claims there was no connection to my father’s unrelenting battle with seven cancers over four decades. That’s okay. My mother’s heart saw something in that choice that spoke of legacy, taking control where there wasn’t any, and making sense of loss—maybe with some growing health consciousness added to the mix.
At first I was resistant, almost angry. For years, I had spent so much of my time accommodating major food allergies in my youngest child, that meal planning and cooking became a nightmare. On the flip side, it served as the first attempt our family had made to eat more natural. (We were also living in the middle of the South Pacific, but that’s a story for another day.)
Fast-forward eight years later, and here we were: accommodating one child who wanted to be healthier (and who could argue with that?) while the rest of us still had processed food and sugars, just as much as we had any fruits (and sometimes vegetables). Pasta was my go-to. Produce was washed but certainly not organic. Salads—even attractively dressed ones—were not my friends.
Not only did it take me at least a year to adjust to the cost difference of eating healthier, I also had to train myself to limit what I purchased from the center grocery aisles. Everything is fresh in the perimeter; stick to the perimeter! And can I lament for one minute about the condemnation I felt as my hyperaware teen health nut watched the rest of us indulge in unhealthy choices! It was a year of my fighting back, defending my choices, and pointing out that we don’t all have to change just because he decided to be OCD about labels. And he was. I would go out of my way to buy something I thought was all-natural only to find out they snuck in a chemical imposter! I was not a happy girl!
Since that time, especially after the one-year mark of these changes in my son, I began to sneak in my own changes. I was more aware of sugar content and would substitute pure maple syrup or honey whenever I could in a recipe, or I would decrease the sugar by half. My younger son and I started growing our own vegetables, with me making sauces and meals from scratch. I bought an electric pressure cooker so I could make meals more quickly and control the ingredients. I went for walks and spent more time in nature. I even converted to all-natural cleaning products. It felt like a complete lifestyle cleanse! Along the way, my other family members jumped on the bandwagon, making their own adjustments here and there.
But as we started eating more clean, some other amazing changes took place, ones we didn’t fully expect. Nothing says simplify like eating pure, unadulterated food, and yet, what we consumed was not the only area of toxicity we started eliminating.
Somehow through this cleansing process, I started observing healthier boundaries in relationships and played “Bouncer” to what I permitted into my life in general:
- I sent away naysayers invading without proper authority or permission to speak into an area of my private life.
- I stopped trying to please people.
- I settled into a healthier view of myself.
- I relegated consistently unhealthy relationships to the safe zone; I would only give them my time when there was mutual respect. I would not invest or engage if there was constant rejection.
- I stopped believing I was somehow responsible for the choices and needs of everyone around me. If I was in the middle of something, I simply didn’t answer a doorbell ringing unexpectedly.
- I disengaged from interactions that took from me in a way that wasn’t honoring God or edifying to me.
- If someone spoke ill of or downplayed a blessing in my life, I no longer gave them access to those moments.
I started considering myself the way the Apostle Paul instructed us in 1 Corinthians. I was God’s temple! Whoa to those who speak against or wish that temple harm! Believers in Christ are not only representatives, but we are also indwelled with His Spirit! When others speak against us, they insult Him as well.
And yet, Jesus told us in the famous Sermon on the Mount, that as a result we are blessed because we took one for the team (Team Christ)!
Matthew 5:11, ESV
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.”
Here’s another thought: Where God is, evil cannot be. He is holy, righteous, and blameless. All good. Our bodies are members of Christ, and they must be pure. We are one spirit with Him: The Holy Spirit!
We are no longer our own when we believe in Christ. We are paid for!
1 Corinthians 6:13-20, ESV
“Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”–and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
We are God’s temple, and God simply cannot cohabitate with evil. He can’t share real estate with idols or anything unclean. While He loves nonbelievers, He cannot live in them. They have not invited Him in, and without Him, they are not clothed in Christ, our advocate, before our Holy Father who demanded a substitute to make relationship with Him possible.
2 Corinthians 6:15-18, ESV
What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”
Did you know that anything that distracts you from God is an idol? It could be overworking, addiction, temptations, relationships, fitness, etc.
Wait? Fitness? I thought you said we should take care of these temples of God?
Yes, but anything that is obsessive or requires all our focus is out of moderation, out of order with what should be our first priority.
Revelation 21:3, ESV
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”
I tried to live in both worlds for a while. I thought it was my duty to tolerate negativity. But the thing about listening to that is: It doesn’t just stay the night. It moves in, unpacks its stuff, and gets comfy.
Freeing my body of unhealthy food has been an ongoing process but one rich in reward. I am learning to treat my mind, heart, and soul with the same respect. I can certainly love those in the struggle of negativity, but they can’t become houseguests.
This temple of God is too precious to me.
How about you? If you know Jesus as your Savior, what have you discovered in the process of sanctification and purity in your own life? What have you discarded to keep the temple clean and tidy?
*This blog was first a featured post at Your Tewksbury Today.
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