Costco samples are the best, right? Just little delightful surprise after little delightful surprise. All in those cute little white wrappers on that red tray of goodness.
This is what happened.
It was the weirdest thing – I walked into a physical therapy appointment one day for my knee. It’s a pretty stubborn knee; it just wasn’t healing and wasn’t healing. My physical therapy guy asked if there was some other stress on my body. Well, I’ve been to doctor after doctor for years for stomach pain. They’ve done lots of tests and such and finally diagnosed it as ‘unexplained stomach pain.’ Hmmm. And I’ve prayed and prayed – and actually the week before had prayed that the Lord needed to do something about this because I couldn’t live with this pain any longer. I had no idea He would answer my prayer at my knee appointment!
So I said, “Yes, I’ve had a stomach ache for years. Nobody can figure it out.” He then walked me to his back patient room. I call it the ‘penthouse’ room - it has a huge window with a lovely view. And he did a few admittedly kind of weird tests. And then he handed me a piece of paper with a bunch of food to avoid and some supplements to take. And that was it. I came to get my knee rubbed and left with a whole new diet.
It was a little bizarre, and I had no clue if it would work, but I’d tried everything else. What did I have to lose? My theory was that I would follow it 100% – no deviation. That way, if it didn’t work, at least I knew it was because it didn’t work and not because I cheated. But if it did work, Hallelujah! I’d had no idea how I was going to keep living in such pain.
So I followed it to a T. It was hard. It felt very restrictive. It took a lot of energy and effort to figure out what to eat and what to do. It made some situations awkward and others nearly impossible. And it caused some rifts in our social life. But I followed it to a perfect little T. No deviation. No cheating.
And I’m not kidding you – the next day I felt better. Part of that I attributed to hope – just feeling like maybe there could be a solution. And as time wore on and it really seemed to be working, wow! It had been years since I felt that good. Years and years!
I couldn’t have been happier. It was such a gift. Like I got my life back.
I did get my life back.
Just a little piece of paper with doctor handwriting on it – it was kind of like a ticket to freedom. The words seemed restrictive at first, but they really offered so much life and vitality.
So you’d think with all that drama I’d be smarter. But apparently I’m not.
There is something about when I feel so good, I forget how badly I feel when I feel bad. If you have any tips on this, I’d love them. Seriously. Because it’s a problem around things like… the red tray of goodness.
So here I was at Costco one day. This was months after I’d been on my new diet. Two of the things I need to avoid are corn and soy. If you go look in your pantry, I would guess 90-95% of packaged food in there contains corn or soy (high fructose corn syrup, corn meal, baking powder, corn oil, soybean oil, soy lecithin, etc). I also can’t have dairy, so once you add that in, it got to the point I looked at anything with more than a couple ingredients and knew, “I’m not making it out of that list alive!”
So we basically got to where we eat single ingredient foods. Most everything is from scratch. Including things like ketchup, bread, and well, pretty much everything.
So after months of eating things from scratch, only whole foods – as some people would say, only *real* food – I’m walking by this Costco sample station. And there it was…
Sometimes I like to pretend that Costco samples aren’t on my ‘foods to avoid list’ (my doctor can’t see this, right? : )). And I chose to pretend at that moment. I picked up a little piece of heaven in a white wrapper from the red tray of goodness.
And I got ready to sink my teeth into what looked like such yumminess.
And as my mouth closed in around the chocolate delight, I could hear cheers. Yeah! I get to eat a brownie! Yeah! I get to be like everyone else. I get to join in with what they’re eating. Yeah! I get to taste this scrumptiousness.
And I took a bite.
It seriously was disgusting. It was so gross. I wanted to spit it out.
But I thought, “That’s so rude. You can swallow this bite.” So I chewed again. But I couldn’t do it. It was gross. I scurried down an aisle and found a lonely trash can and spit it out.
What? How could something from the red tray of goodness not be delicious?
I know. I was shocked, too.
But after months and months of eating true goodness – whole foods, nothing packaged, no sugar, all stuff that makes my body happy, it. was. disgusting. To eat a packaged sugary something was not at all tasty. It had no appeal. What I used to be fine with doing – what used to taste fine, or actually, good!, to me – now made me want to gag.
And I thought, “What a random parallel! This so tastes like complaining!”
It’s the same thing.
Take a break from complaining for a while. Only feed your mind and mouth with things that are admirable – wholesome things. It may feel a bit restrictive at first. And it may feel a bit weird – because everyone seems to be doing it. It may affect your social interactions a bit. And it may be tempting along the way to go back to old ways. But if you *fully* follow the challenge to do *everything* without complaining, your mind and your mouth and your relationships will adjust to the new wholesomeness. You’ll enjoy it. You’ll thrive in it. And what at first seemed restrictive will actually turn out to be enlivening and freeing. Like a life and an enjoyment you never knew you could have.
Yet one day, you may be tempted. Some people will be complaining, and like a red tray of goodness, you may join in. It used to feel normal. It used to feel fine. It used to actually feel good. It used to seem like what you do to bond with people.
But it won’t taste like a piece of heaven anymore. It’ll taste gross. It may even kind of make you want to gag.
And you’ll remember anew the 4 words you stumbled on: “Do everything without complaining.” And you’ll be drawn back to them. And they’ll taste different. They’ll no longer feel restrictive. They’ll actually feel more enlivening and freeing.