When I was in the Air Force at big group meetings we’d often watch videos of our bombs blowing things up, snipers shooting terrorists from a distance, us shooting enemy planes down, and so on. The intent was to inspire us and build camaraderie … YET, while those are admirable results, today I worry about the means. I think we were being fed regular dishes of violence, which can’t help but influence and infect our ways of thinking and being in the world. We truly are what we “eat” on ALL levels, what we take “in” shapes us physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually.
I remember the day in second grade when allergies first came into my life. After playing with a neighbor cat I broke out in hives. For a while that was the extent of my allergies, so it wasn’t too bad. BUT, when puberty hit it not only “blessed” me with its usual assortment of gifts, it gave me a buffet of allergies and allergy-induced asthma. I was allergic to cats, dogs, dust, dust mites, pollen, various grasses, various trees, and more. To make a long story short, I’ll sum it up by saying I was super allergic to dust and dust mites and there’s pretty much dust everywhere, so I have LOTS of memories from middle school involving me sniffling, wheezing, surrounded by used tissues, and the like … often DURING class. Can you imagine, being a snot nosed, wheezing kid in MIDDLE SCHOOL? While I honestly hadn’t thought about that childhood trauma in years, it still sends a shiver down my spine.
Allergy shots, medicine, inhalers, and reaching adulthood combined to lessen the impact QUITE a bit, but I’d still get miserably itchy eyed and super snotty in dusty places or homes with cats. It stayed like this and was constant for about 20 years. Yet, then I started eating only fish (for meat) and increasingly clean, i.e. less processed food, less premade food, WAY less sugar, more local fruits and vegetables, and more sauces made from scratch (or just a few pronounceable ingredients).
Clean eating led to a significant positive shift in my allergies. At the time, most weeks a group of us would gather at our friends’ house for a few hours, and these beautiful beings happened to have a cat. I’d be completely fine until the last 30-60 minutes, at which point I’d get slightly itchy eyes and sniffly, but nothing close to how I’d been for years (though it’d hang around until the next morning). THEN, I shifted my eating choices some more and became a clean eating vegan … at which point my allergies nearly disappeared. I’d go to the house and have NO symptoms.
I share this story because what we put into our bodies GREATLY affects our physical beings. Real food leads to real energy and health, it’s basically that simple. When you put good fuel in your engine, everything runs better. The same is true about the mental/emotional and spiritual aspects of our beings too. We are full-bodied beings, mind, body, AND spirit, and the more we tune all three aspects of ourselves toward goodness, the more we THRIVE.
Jesus summed up the point of life and bottom-lined all the rules for a thriving life with: Love God and love others as yourself. In other words: Life? Love! You know what I mean? I mention this because for a good portion of my time in the Air Force, not only did I join in watching the videos of us bombing the crap out of our enemies, I also spent a great deal of time playing video games focused on combat of various kinds, watching action movies, and reading books about wars, battles, and/or fighting (fictional and nonfictional). Now, I don’t say this to proclaim any of those as “bad”. For instance, I don’t think people literally kill people because of violent video games. What I am saying is my “diet” consisted of violence, violence, and more violence, which shaped me in a manner that made it basically impossible for me to love well (the POINT of life). Please note, I’m NOT blaming the games, Air Force, books, movies, etc. for my lack of love, I accept responsibility, I’m simply pointing out how what I “ate” greatly impacted what I did or didn’t do.
I think the key here, the take-away is to be mindful of what we “eat”, be it food, social media, television, movies, books, music, drinks, games, activities, and/or people we spend time with. Mindfully balancing our diets with real food, loving stories, grace filled books, peaceful movies, and so on, will bias our beings towards thriving and flourishing. I still watch EVERY Marvel superhero movie, love Star Wars, read some swashbuckling fantasy novels, and so on, yet for years I’ve started my days by reading meditations, blogs, and stories of positivity, inspiration, and all sorts of goodness. Likewise, I avoid the news on television and listen to podcasts and books with a strong bent toward love, caring, and kindness. While I’m FAR from perfect, these changes in my diet have been key for me now naturally and normally loving WAY more like Jesus.
Our minds, bodies, and spirits all thirst for and need nourishment, and the better we feed those aspects of ourselves, the sweeter life gets! What are your experiences on this topic? What do you think?
Grace and peace,