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  • Aileen McKernan

On Food & Freedom

I am going to have a big old bowl full of carbs after my long run today. And enjoy every bite of them. For much too much of my life I demonized food and food groups in an attempt to lose weight and feel good about myself. Most recently with the Keto diet about a year ago. After having stable weight for 3 years on a well rounded "flexitarian" diet, I found myself gaining it uncontrollably after increasing my mileage on the trails. Desperate, I succumbed to ill advice from peers. Keto is good for your heart, good for your body, good for endurance athletes.

Sure I lost weight. Sure I looked good. Sure I got complements. But I felt terrible and my performance began to tank. I subsequently suffered a devastating race error which led to injuries I am just emerging from a little over a year later. The susceptibility to go to great lengths to lose weight because it was connected to my self esteem is an issue this go round forced me to deal with at a heart level. The first sign of anxiety and inability to cope mentally and emotionally due to a dysfunctional home of origin with no support system expressed itself as an eating disorder when I was just 12 years old. Anorexia. That beast laid its fetters on me, but the Love of God in Christ Jesus was no match. Eat well. Feel well. Run well. Those are the words I live by, not by calorie counts, fad diets, appearances that fade and are no real measure of the worth of the heart of a person. I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139:14).

But I got to thinking today as I often do on the trail or after long runs, this time about dysfunctional food patterns. Demonizing food is a symptom of underlying illness of thoughts and beliefs. We like to reduce our lives to eat this, eat that. It goes well beyond food. We like to camp in our comfortable borders and boundaries and pass judgements on people and camps that do not conform to our acceptable standards. Races. Socio-economic classes. Political Parties. Vaccinated. Not vaccinated. This or that thinking creates barriers and walls and these seem ever heightened in our hypersensitive, increasingly difficult to have civil discussions society. Our positions, our self images, our sense of worth is all too connected to our rights, our beliefs, our positions, our thinking and doing.

This is religiosity at its worst and what Jesus came to demolish. Bigotry is in our hearts. We are born that way. We’re not some innocent creatures who get messed up along the way. Nope our hard wiring is off to begin with. That’s why we need grace. That’s why we need the Love of God, that’s why we need restoration and reconciliation. That’s why we need Jesus. Once we have Him we can be free from demonization, from this or that thinking. We can bridge the gap between camps, take people off the hook just like Jesus did when He was on the cross and cried out, “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Freedom is harder than religion because in freedom we have to learn to trust God to lead and guide us. Our meals, our routines, our well worn grooves of living and being get shaken up, disturbed, scrambled, rearranged, and if we allow it leads us to greater peace. It is not for everybody but it is available to all! There is no greater grace than to no longer be chained to camps that just choke and destroy the real life that is in us. The life of loving one another.

I am going to have a big old bowl of carbs this evening balanced with shrimp and scallops for my protein and farm fresh kale for my greens. I’ll probably have some chocolate for dessert too.

If you’re in the neighborhood I’d be happy to share and we can talk about whatever.

Galatians 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.

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