Friday, December 14, 2012

Addressing the Elephant

I am NOT an "ignore the elephant in the room" kind of girl. If there is an elephant in the room, I believe it should be addressed. It is unnecessarily awkward for everyone to converse over or through an elephant. If someone tries to move around the elephant, that person will either:

A) Trip
B) Look ridiculous or
C) Find herself with a large mammalian rear end in her face.

So let's address the elephant!

In my quest for healing and health, medical doctors and Western medicine have failed me. I have baffled them at every turn. One such doctor, who specializes in allergies and immunology, basically told me to go home and starve to death. (I will admit, however, his exact words were a bit more diplomatic.) Because "modern medicine" failed to help me and because my symptoms were so severe that I had to choose between doing something radical or dying, I chose to do something radical. "Something radical" usually equates with "lifestyle change," and it has certainly meant that for me.

I have radically altered my diet, choosing only to eat "gut healing" foods. My diet does not resemble the standard American diet in the least. It doesn't even resemble diets that are widely considered to be "healthy" in our culture. If changing my diet wasn't enough, I'm also making as many personal care and household products as possible. I see multiple natural doctors, take supplements instead of medicine, drink herbs and regularly have this super shady "BioSet"/acupressure treatment done. I talk of "toxins" and "energy pathways," and I've traded my nice home for a trailer and the commune life so that I can help my parents begin an organic farm.

Most of you are probably thinking one of three things:

A) "Oh my word! She's crazy! I knew it!"
B)  "Oh, bless her heart. She must be so desperate!" (I hear this one in sweet, old-lady Southern drawl, don't you?)
C) "I am really worried about her. She's just going off the deep end with all of this new age hocus pocus. She'll be worshiping stars, hugging trees and practicing voodoo before we know it."

For those thinking choice "A," you are absolutely right. I follow an invisible God who asks me to die daily to my own desires, to store up invisible treasure in invisible places instead of seeking financial gain, and tells me that I have to love people who are absolutely awful to me, and to the best of my ability with the help of the Holy Spirit, I do it because I love Him. That's crazy.

For those thinking choice "B," you are also correct. I am desperate. I was looking at death in the eye on a daily basis. If the recurring anaphylaxsis didn't get me, I was going to starve to death. Starving isn't on my list of "Top 10 Preferred Ways To Die." (What? You don't have a list?) So yes, desperation drove me to take drastic measures.

And for those of you thinking choice "C," I honestly understand your objections (voiced or unvoiced) to my choices. I am not at all threatened by those objections because I once had them myself. I've had to be utterly convinced that what I'm dealing with is actual science and not some kind of crazy juju devil worship or worse--another "power of positive thinking" or "prosperity gospel" thing. I have read lots of good research done by renowned doctors who have nothing to gain by their findings. I am now satisfied that the science is real, and was surprised to find that it has been around a long time in the forms of ancient Chinese medicine and great-great-grandmother's home remedies. Today, we are simply able to better explain these seemingly mystical practices thanks to the scientific advances made over the course of the last several years.

For those who are still truly concerned, consider this--most of us do not know how cell phones work. We don't understand the science behind these little gadgets that we all carry around in our pockets and purses. But we do carry them. We also use computers, fax machines, and credit cards with little more than a vague idea of how they work. While most of the natural therapies I'm using aren't anymore infallible than prescription drugs, they are working for me. In small yet significant ways, I am better....without communing with the universe, dancing naked on hilltops, or other such nonsense. I hope you now feel free to think of me as only crazy and not as misled.

As I have learned new information that has helped my family and me, I have had a hard time keeping it to myself. I am so excited to find simple remedies to common ailments that do not include potentially harmful substances! So I share my discoveries on Facebook, on Pinterest, in emails and in face to face conversations. My doing so makes some of you feel very uncomfortable. Your reasons are your own, but I know that there is often an unspoken tension between two people who are making drastically different personal choices. I have felt this tension myself, so I know many of you are feeling it--this ambiguous, unsettled feeling. It's hard to give this feeling a name. Is it guilt? Is it the sense that we are being judged? Usually, the feeling is far too complex to label.

I have given this subject lots of thought, so allow me to suggest that the reason we feel so uncomfortable when another person's behavior sharply contrasts with our own is that we chronically seek validation from others. We need validation, and if you've lived ten years on this earth, you know that more times than not, people just don't give it to you. Here is hope--the Christian does not need validation from people. We continue to seek it, but we don't need it.

In his book, The Imitation of Christ, Thomas a Kempis writes, "He to whom the eternal Word speaketh, is set at liberty from a multitude of opinions," which basically means that it is okay if no one understands you and everyone thinks you're crazy. If you are following the Lord and hearing His voice, you do not need the approval of man. I do not mean to say that we should go out of our way to be weird for the heck of it. I simply mean that when the way of the cross leads you to strange places, you don't need the approval of others to know it is where you should be because all that matters is that God wants you to be there.

I also don't mean to say that we can live however we want without regard to the needs and feelings of others. The Bible discusses this topic generally and specifically as it applies to my situation. For general purposes, concerning liberty and the care of others, we are given Galatians 5:13-14--"For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'"

Specifically concerning diet, we are given Romans 14:14-23. Paul writes--

"I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak. Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin."

I will confess now that when I read the words I placed in italics, I crumbled and wept. Without realizing it, I had become prideful in my heart about my new way of living. I had come to believe that the way I was eating and seeking health care was superior to that of others. I am wrong when I think like this for "all things indeed are pure." (Excepting deep fried Twinkies. I am sure deep friend Twinkies are not pure.) On the other hand, if a Christ-follower believes that natural health care is unclean, to her it is unclean. This is the case for my friend, Jenny. I have shared with her some of the natural alternatives available to her, but because she has a negative spiritual history with natural health care, it is unclean to her. God would not have her seek alternative medicine as I have.

However, because we love one another and because we trust that we both follow the Lord's leading, we are comfortable with our different approaches to healing. I even rejoice in it! Wouldn't it be a grand thing for the God to use Western medicine to heal my friend and alternative medicine to heal me? Wouldn't it be a glorious picture of how God can do whatever He wants, however He wants? Wouldn't it be a magnificent show of how it is not medicine that heals, but the hand of God?

Allow me to apologize now if anyone has felt the brunt of my superior thoughts. God has shown me the error of my ways. I now see clearly that what I am doing is not necessarily better, only different. Forgive my human weakness. As Thomas a Kempis further writes, "We are too much taken up with our own passions; and too solicitous about transitory things." I will likely continue to share some of the good information I discover, but I will understand completely if that information isn't for you. The last thing I desire to do is to "destroy with food the one for whom Christ died." I will strive to "pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another." I promise you that Christ in me will not allow me to judge you for doing what you believe to be right for you and your family. I will remember that "the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." It is one of my sincerest wishes to walk in love to you. I can promise these things because Christ has promised the complete the good work He began in me (Philippians 1:6). I can always bank on the promises of God, but I cannot promise to give you validation for your choices anymore than you can promise to give me validation for mine.

 The validation of others is worthless, anyway. The only validation anyone truly needs.....the only validation that will ever satisfy is the validation found in Jesus Christ. Real salvation begins by deciding to stop trying to save yourself, and looking to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to save you. It has been accomplished for you, and you cannot earn it with any amount of money, talent, service, education or power. And once you invest yourself fully and completely in Him, nothing--not illness, not loss, not disapproval, not disappointment, not the cruelest persecutions, not even the largest elephant in the room--can touch you.

2 comments:

Dr. Juris said...

I guess I'm weird. I think learning new things and the commune life are really cool, but they are CERTAINLY not for the lazy. :) (And I am lazy.) I don't think anyone should judge you for things that work for you. If it's working, then keep doing it! The reason many people haven't tried anything new is because their "old" routine works for them. Nothing wrong with shaking things up a bit though.

Hope you continue to get better. I'm really interested in the acupuncture aspect of your healing. You should consider doing an in depth blog about it. :)

MelissaKeaster said...

Thanks, Erica! You make good points. I was talking with mom about one such point the other day. I told her that I wish I had known two years ago what I know now. She told me that if I had, I wouldn't have made any changes. I had to be forced into it! I am naturally lazy, too, but I have been forced into action. I just hope this post clears the air for anyone who has felt uncomfortable with/around me. Thanks for the encouragement!