The month of May. OK, April 20-May 20 to be exact, because we don’t like to start projects when normal people would. Our month for eating only seven different foods. All month.
As a reminder, my daughter and I are embarking on a second round of Jen Hatmaker’s book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. A more detailed explanation can be found here. And here. We are tired of excess. And we want to find our hidden caches of it that sneak up on us. Most of all, we want to find what God is saying in the searching.
The first month of this seven, we are concentrating on food. How many food choices do we typically have? How much does the average person waste? How many stinking times do I grab something out without even thinking once, let alone twice? How does that assumed abundance ultimately affect the expectations I believe for what I deserve?
And what if we self-limited our choices to just seven? How would that teach me something about the lives of others, and the life I believe I should get to keep?
Now, abundance of food choices has not really been an issue for me lately. In fact, in the past ten months, I’ve been what you might call “dietetically limited.” (I wasn’t even sure dietetically was a word. But spellcheck does not deny me the pleasure.) After a virus that triggered a latent case of celiac disease, I have spent nearly a year unable to eat much food and unable to process most. It’s been an experience.
Many people have gushed over how good I look. (I.e., no longer forty pounds overweight.) One of my dearest friends, who can always be counted on to be real, put it differently last week.
Friend: So, are you stabilizing now? Like, not losing any more weight? Because you look a little . . .
Me: Concentration camp chic?
Friend: No, that’s not the way I’d put it. Exactly . . .
Yeah. So, too much food has not really been an issue.
In fact, I welcomed the chance to narrow it down to seven foods I know my body can work with. Maybe, by the end of a month, things would get a jump start back toward normal if I avoided anything that might upset the system. (Which is, well, just about anything.)
And I do feel better. Much better.
Which is why it’s funny that I’m being a little bipolar about the whole 7 foods thing. One minute, I’m all “I could do this forever—I love how easy it is!” and ten minutes later it’s more, “I would sell my firstborn child for the tiniest corner of a (gluten free) brownie!”
You can’t please some people.
OK, so I wonder. The things about this month I rejoice in:
- The ease of shopping. (7 things. I don’t even need a list.)
- The simplicity of meal prep. (A sliced tomato for dinner vegetable/fruit. Always. A banana and egg for lunch. Soooo easy.)
- The mindlessness of menu planning. (Chicken, fish, or fried rice for dinner tonight? And . . . a tomato.)
These, to me, are huge bonuses. So much space in my refrigerator, schedule, and mental life is freed up.
But what about the people I’m supposed to be thinking about—the ones for whom this is every day? The ones who never get to think “what shall I cook today?” because the choice is always the same. If there is anything at all. The people who would consider my seven things a list so spectacularly varied and nutritious they could scarcely imagine eating off it all the time.
All those amazing lessons I’m supposed to learn from “depriving myself”? When I think about these people, it all seems so . . . so . . . still All. About. Me.
Any conclusions I come away with still seem so minimal compared the the one huge conclusion that no matter what I take away, I will still be privileged compared to most of the other images of God on this planet. If I flat out starved myself, I would still be exercising a choice to do that, something so many do not have. The very fact that I have choices at all. And, that I am of (reasonably) sound mind and body to make them. Have you ever really thought about that??
So maybe that the lesson I’m taking away from month one? That my mere existence in this time and place puts me at an incalculable advantage no matter what. And what does that mean? Because surely God did not give me that gift to watch me say a (sort of) grateful grace at every meal and go on with life as usual.
I’m getting what Jen says in her book Interrupted:
“I started hearing my gospel narrative through the ears of the Other, and a giant whole bunch of it didn’t even make sense. Some values and perspectives and promises I attributed to God’s own heart only worked in my context, and I’m no theologian, but surely that is problematic.
There is a biblical benchmark I now use. Here it is:
If it isn’t also true for a poor
single Christian mom in
Haiti, it isn’t true. Theology
is either true everywhere or it isn’t true
I don’t think a theology of “God thank you for all my blessings you’ve blessed me with, The End,” would make sense to that Haitian mom. I don’t think she’d understand at all if I assumed I just have so much because He just loves me so stinkin’ much. I’m incredibly adorable, after all.
What would that be saying He thinks of her?
I think if she ever read Isaiah 58 or much of the gospels she’d wonder if I ever had.
I don’t know where this is going to go. But I know I’ve got to ask the hard questions of why I have so many choices. And I know that when God starts getting us to ask why, anything can happen.