Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Lessons from a blueberry bagel

It has been about a year since my body has ceased to allow me to enjoy all of the yummy's that I love. I can no longer eat normal food. It has been a difficult journey (as many worthwhile journeys are). 

I don't like to tell people that I can't eat normal food. Food is "the great equalizer," "the greatest pleasure," "the way to one's heart." Life is shared over food, love is showed through food. We gather around food, we celebrate with food. Jesus broke bread with his disciples and in that sharing, they united in fellowship. Food is a big deal. It many ways, it feels like I'm missing out on the greatest human tradition that ever existed. I am no longer a part of the club. 

Though it has become a bit easier with time, right now as I sit writing this, I would really love to eat a blueberry bagel. With cream cheese. Not toasted.
Or maybe some of mom's homemade enchiladas. With a side of cumin dressing salad. My ultimate favorite. 
Man, that would be glorious.

Something so simple as a late-night snack, this body I've been given can no longer enjoy. It is something I long for every day. 

It's in these longings that I am learning so much. 

For a long time I have carried the weight of my inability as if I was, in some way, responsible - as if I chose it like a haircut or a career. I have been embarrassed about my weakness, as if I could have prevented any part of it. Intellectually I know this isn't true but subconsciously this is how I've behaved; tip-toeing around, trying my best to not infect others with the burden of my inability.

The obvious truth is, my body is weak. I cannot brush my own hair or help wash the dirty dishes. I cannot lift my arms to embrace you or turn the page of the book in front of me. And while those abilities would be so wonderful to posses, their absence points to something bigger.

"We begin to see a pattern developing that God purposely chooses those who are weak in the world's eyes to carry out his work... so that when God gives them the victory, all will know that the victory came from Yahweh, not from the people he chose as his agents of deliverance." (Michael S. BeatesDisability and the Gospel)

Jesus uses the weak because in our weakness His power may be fully known. God redeems broken situations. He takes the hard and painful and turns them into something beautiful. Through the longing and heartache, God is laying the ground work for a deep and meaningful relationship with himself. It is from our deep struggle that we are able to see Jesus.

Unless the Lord heals this body of mine, I will probably long to enjoy homemade guacamole and fresh strawberries all of my days. And while that is challenging in such a deep and simple way, these sharp realities are refining me. These painful and messy difficulties are molding me into the person that Jesus has called me to be. With every unwanted limitation, with each unfulfilled desire, my eyes are being opened wide and my focus narrowed. 

I think maybe that's the point.