Getting To The Heart Issue: What Allergies Revealed About My Faith
I first met Jennifer Love earlier this year and immediately knew we were kindred spirits. As our friendship grows, the Lord has revealed more and more commonalities that we can use to encourage one another (even in dairy-free living!). Because that’s what Jennifer does, she encourages. Even in the midst of trials and tragedy, she stops and remembers to show others the love of Christ. She sees people and, like our Lord, has compassion on them. I am honored to share her words with you today.
My second son entered the world with joy. He was such a calm baby, unlike all the months he had spent relentlessly kicking the insides of my ribs. But in the next couple of years, as he began to learn to speak, we learned that his insides were in constant turmoil too.
He was one of the many who suffer the medical trifecta of asthma, allergies, and eczema, to a severe degree. We have been down a painful and confusing road in our health, and our relationship with God, to gain any victory over these issues. His skin would itch until it bleeds, he spent hours a day getting breathing treatments, and even as a toddler her would tell us that his stomach always hurt. He knew nothing else. For any parent this is their nightmare, to watch your child suffer and after seeing countless doctors to still hold no answers.
We had tried gluten-free trials, bowel testing, steroids, ointments, and many tearful blood tests before we were asked to try now an egg-free, dairy-free diet. Dairy! A staple in the diet of a three-year-old! Milk, yogurt, cheese? This was going to be hard. This suggestion came just before we were headed to spend a summer in Germany working at a summer camp. Little did I know how challenging it would be to dine on camp cafeteria food or order and eat out in a foreign country, with only two months of German lessons. My family still laughs at me for trying hard and yet buying “egg noodles” despite my best efforts to shop in German.
Under a new pediatrician, my son has also tested allergic egg, peanuts, walnuts. And the cat. I have severe eczema on just my hands and decided to cut all of these out in case they affected me too. I also thought it would help me to sympathize and cook better for him. Stopping all of these foods overnight while traveling became a physical nightmare. But the more surprising result was all of the emotions and fears that rose out of me. And I say rose because that implies that they were always there.
On one of the first mornings on our trip, I cried because we went out to breakfast and I could not find a single thing to eat.
My husband stuffed his face with pastries and I hated the world. I cried at the grocery store because they had none of the dairy substitutes I could find at home. I cried when we got to our destination because the week ahead with my tiny bag of groceries seemed so bleak. My stomach began to quiver and feel anxious on the way to the cafeteria, never knowing if I was going to find anything we could have among the limited choices. It was more than just huger pains. It was becoming serious anxiety.
Beneath it all, I was resenting God for our issues and growing bitter at how narrow (and tasteless) my world seemed. Irrelevant lies began to fill my thoughts about God’s fairness and my ugliness and my job as a mom. And I think I was actually grieving the loss of freedom knowing that on my first trip to Europe I wanted to be able to pick up anything delicious-looking without reading any labels. I know, so dramatic and self-pitying; evidently the sleeping giants in my heart. Trials and travel will certainly bring those to light.
I sought a few faithful friends to lift my weary heart before the Father and experienced the reality check of surrendering my relatively small trials to Him in exchange for peace.
Light again shone through the gray skies that had smothered me.The enemy of our joy doesn’t fight fair. He will try any attempt to distract us or target our other insecurities. But in God’s Word and words to us, we can find the truth that breaks those arrows. Click To Tweet
The enemy of our joy doesn’t fight fair and I am better at recognizing that now, especially when the thoughts are so non-sequeter. “I’m not a good mom because my body has allergies?” He will try any attempt to distract us or target our other insecurities. But in God’s Word and words to us, we can find the truth that breaks those arrows.
I had recently read “Waking the Dead” by John Eldridge and been chewing on his idea of caring for my heart or for the heart of others. If anything, from that time, I want to walk away with a sensitivity to the heart issues that may cling to anything that we go through.
I could have just paid attention to my hunger or inner pity-party, but the real issues stemmed from my heart, not my stomach.
There were lies to reject, confessions to be made, and hope to receive.I could have just paid attention to my hunger or inner pity-party, but the real issues stemmed from my heart, not my stomach. There were lies to reject, confessions to be made, and hope to receive. #ChristianLiving Click To Tweet
Isn’t that the way it always is? With anyone around me, what am I doing to check in on and care for their heart? It’s not just a “bad day with the kids”, but a longing for stillness and peace and a return to thoughts that are eternal and not just attending to immediate needs.
It’s usually not “just a sickness”, but the anxieties and lies that chase after you in your weakness. I have been asking God to give me ears to really hear what is going on at the heart-level when others speak. We are such complicated beings of body, soul, spirit, and emotion. Too often we carry on like we are one-dimensional beings because it takes too much time to ponder the heart and lay all that lies beneath before the Lord. But through the evident multi-layers exposed through my own problems, I ask Him to help me discern them clearly in the stories of others. And care enough to address it.
Apparently, a little ice cream withdrawal is food for the spirit.
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” -Proverbs 4:23
Jennifer Love is a mom of 2 boys, who homeschools and is involved in college ministry in central Virginia. She writes and creates resources for family discipleship, parenting and Christ-centered traditions at Intentional Traditions. You can also follow her for family time ideas and kid-friendly devotions on Instagram.
If you liked this post, you might also like:
Every Day is Someone Else’s Awful Hospital Day (Psst, this one is also from Jennifer)
Keeping The Faith During Depression
I’m #Blessed When I Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness
Psalms: You Can Be Emotional With God
Such a great post…thank you for sharing! I have chronic digestive issues so this really struck home with me!
Diane, It amazes me how many people are affected by this in some form or another.
I SO needed this! I’ve been having some really bad stomach issues and in getting to the bottom of it, I’ve been harboring so much fear about having allergies or celiac disease and not being able to eat certain things. Thanks for opening my eyes to how Satan is working in this situation!!
Nicole, God is good even in trying times. I’m so glad this made you more aware.
Jennifer LoveNicole Kauffman
Nicole, It has changed my mind and life to consider the thoughts that run through my head and pitch the ones I know are not from the Lord. The enemy tries some pretty sneaky, subtle tactics, but sometimes they don’t even make sense! I have prayed for you today to gain insight into those lies so your food restrictions are made even more difficult by attack.
No Compass Necessary
This is a great post, especially because I can completely identify with the struggles of food allergies and feeling lost. It’s not an easy process to change your world around with having to adjust your eating habits and the fear of eating out and what it might do to you!
BaileyNo Compass Necessary
It’s not an easy process at all! I’m so grateful for Jennifer sharing her God-honoring revelation.
I completely understand the pain and anxiety you feel. My daughter doesn’t have an allergy like that, but I chose to become a vegetarian as a teenager (still am) in an age where vegetarian wasn’t a thing. I would go to restaurants and there wouldn’t be a thing I could eat either. I would go to a family function and same thing would happen. 16 years later and I still check menus before we get to a restaurant and eat before going to family functions in fear there is no food I can eat.
There are so many more options out there for both of us nowadays thankfully than back then. I consider it a blessing because I now love to cook at home and we really don’t eat out much. It’s saved us so much money and I can now cook pretty well!
I’m so glad you’ve found some solutions!
Even when I or my husband have health problems and we have had several the last three years I try to remember HE won’t give me anything I can’t handle. Read Job.
Job is such an encouragement!
I feel your pain about the food. I think back to life b/f the diagnosis that keeps us out of restaurants & constantly monitoring every bite of our child for her safety. Then God reminds me what we do have – so many other blessings. Thanks for sharing this!
It is such a challenge but God is good in it.
I had no idea there was even a connection! Great post!
Isn’t it interesting how God can use those seemingly unconnected things in our life?
I was healed and know many people.healed of allergies and MCS/EI at a ministry in Thomaston Ga.
Thanks for sharing, Chana!