When you’re pregnant, everyone tells you that sleep will consume you–thinking about it, wishing for it, not getting it. This hasn’t been quite true for us. Now, I fully admit that through some combination of genetics and God’s mercy, we were blessed with an amazing sleeper (please don’t hate me), but overall, I’ve found that we tend to be consumed by something else: food.
When Ian was brand new, it was nursing (or lack thereof). It was the one thing that threatened to throw me off the motherhood deep end. Eventually, we decided to stick with formula. At that point, we found ourselves obsessing over Enfamil or Similac or Target brand, and do we want the type for sensitive tummies or reflux or fussiness? Then, baby food: which flavors to try and how much, and should we finally buy a high chair? Solid food has been a battle ever since: he simply refused to eat it for months, having complete meltdowns in his high chair until we acquiesced and gave him the mushy Gerber stuff.
So yes, it has been food, rather than sleep, that has ruled our lives since Ian was born.
Along the way, I’ve been amazed at how much I learn about my own relationship with God by watching Ian eat (or not).
I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, as Scripture is rife with stories, parables, and images centered around food and drink. God demonstrated His care for the Israelites through the provision of quail and mannah, and His rules about food’s preparation and consumption made up much of the Jewish law. Jesus’ first miracle was centered around drink, and He went on to say that He himself was Bread and Wine. In Acts, we see the early church did much of their community around the table. In his letters to the early church, Paul used food metaphors to admonish and encourage them to continue growing in their faith.
Food is central to our lives. It seems only right that it would be central in Scripture too.
One of Ian’s favorite pastimes is throwing food onto the floor. Some weeks, we leave a bath towel on the floor under his high chair, because otherwise we constantly need to to mop the floor. When he refused to eat solid foods at all, he demonstrated defiance by repeatedly and rapidly throwing all his food on the floor. Now he’ll eat the food (sometimes), but it turns out throwing vegetables on the floor is a universal sign for “all done.”
What really gets me, though, is that when I’m not looking, he loves to go back and eat the food off the floor. He will refuse more cereal at breakfast until we put him down to play, at which point he finds every discarded Cheerio and devours them as quickly as possible.
I don’t understand it. Nothing has changed about the food except that it’s now probably covered in dirt or dust and may be slightly smooshed, yet Ian finds it completely irresistible.
When he crawls back to the table, searching for scraps on the floor, I scoop him up and carry him away. “Nope, it’s no good anymore, buddy.” It’s dirty or cold or (if I’m being a responsible parent) already swept up into the trash. If only he had said yes the first time.
Aren’t I the same way, though? God places something in front of me–a relationship or opportunity or lesson–perfectly appetizing, the right temperature, prepared just right.
But because I am a person motivated by pride and stubbornness and–even more often–fear, I often say, “No, no right now, I’m fine, thanks.” I ignore the offer or distance myself from it. Occasionally, I take so much time to muster up the courage to try it, that I miss out completely.
Only later–after I’ve played around and had some time to think about it–do I decide, “Well, you know, that doesn’t look so bad after all. In fact, it may even be good.” Because of grace, the offer may still stand at that point, but I’ve missed the opportunity to humbly and courageously show God I trust Him. I’ve missed the opportunity to be a changed person as a result.
I’m thinking about the things to which I said “yes” the first time: marrying Evan straight out of college, interviewing for a job at Summit, deciding we were ready for a baby, leading the team to Malawi. What if I had said no to these things? I want to cry when I consider–seriously consider–what my life might have been without them.
“Yes” is not always the right answer. Undoubtedly, there are some opportunities from which I need to walk away. But overall, I don’t want my fear and desire for control to stop me from fully engaging what’s in front of me. Jesus has my good at heart. I don’t want to miss out on might be really, really good.
I know that God’s already given me a place at the table. Now it’s time to partake.