oh, to be whole

Wholeness. To be restored to fullness. To be altogether complete. To be healed.

Our culture longs for wholeness. We seek to fill in the gaps. We strive to lack nothing. We search for supernatural strength. What do we fill? How do we strive? Where do we search?

Oh, to be whole.

Over the past month, they have been on a journey together. A journey that she geeks out about, he groans over, and a journey that brought to the surface more than they bargained for a New Year’s eating plan.

She set out on the journey to seek wholeness, to be restored from unhealthy patterns and habits, to reset her body to a way of eating it was intended for, and to see if this plan would prove a diagnosis for her man’s migraines. He, the supportive husband of a strong willed woman, complied, and together they submitted themselves to what is commonly known as, the Whole30.

30 days: real food, whole food: meat, seafood, eggs, lots of veggies, some fruit, good fats all while avoiding gluten, grains, dairy, legumes and sugars.

IMG_0485.JPG

To be restored to fullness. The first week of their Whole30 adventure sounded a lot like the Rolling Stones hit, “No Satisfaction”. When deprived of what they normally sought to satisfy, their bodies proved captive to their addictions. Her generous squeeze of honey per morning coffee, his popcorn and Shiner beer, her cheese, crackers and Chardonnay, their quick Chick lunch, peanut butter ‘n chocolate chips before bed and pizza Friday, OH pizza Friday…

IMG_9188.JPG

They were not satisfied without. He left most meals she prepared feeling hungry, grumpy and craving. She packed up leftovers each night discouraged, depressed and thirsty for his approval. He spent most days enduring a chronic headache. Poorly motivated, she hunted for work to make up for the extra money she had spent at the grocery store. He wanted to be filled. She wanted to be enough. They were needy, fatigued and cranky. They had trained their bodies to find fullness by way of filling in the gaps with what they thought would satisfy. Deprived of these fleshly desires, they felt empty and depleted. So, she doubled his portions and added carb dense veggies, and he made an effort to affirm her time planning, work preparing and creativity in presenting each meal. He chased after memories his taste buds delighted in that left him lacking. She craved his accolades and appreciation. They longed to be satisfied, to be filled. To be restored to fullness.

To be altogether, complete. About two weeks in, their bodies adjusted, energy increased and benefits became obvious. She no longer waited until the last minute to force herself to the gym for the last work out of the day, but took every opportunity to be outside, active and in relationship with those around her. He could sit in front of and resist a basket of tortilla chips, and crave a burrito bowl. She became motivated and inspired in ways to bring in extra money. His headaches subsided. She experienced a new found confidence, and he rarely grumbled about not feeling full. They had both noticed a difference and sang praises about the plan.

Even so, they still longed for completion of the 30 days. Him, for the freedom of choice, to satiate his cravings with the morsels they’d been without. Her, to see results so dramatic that she would repel gluten and dairy like she did the stomach virus. He wanted to be finished. She wanted to be whole.

IMG_0646.JPGTheir hope was in the last day; him, to no longer resist, her, to experience revelation. So, they remained faithful to the plan through dinners out with family, celebrating with friends, life on the road and yes, even watching the SuperBowl. They fixed their eyes on the finish line. To be lacking nothing, altogether complete.

To be wholly healed. The end came fast, Day30, it. is. finished! He lost 15 pounds, dropped more inches than he needed to and proved to his competitive self that he could do almost anything he sets his mind to, even if it means no bread for 30 days. She comfortably fit into most of her clothes, had blemish free skin for the first time without prescription meds, and felt as if every minute was pumped with adrenaline. He no longer had to resist, and the results surpassed her expectations. They were feelin’ good.

IMG_0752

Their first lunch out on Day31 uncovered opposing expectations of life after the Whole30. In one single sandwich he reintroduced all food groups he had eliminated without regard to the work he had done to clean them out of his system. She deliberated with great tension over informing his decisions or giving him full freedom to make his own choice. He became frustrated with the ambiguity of the program rules of life after the Whole30. She abandoned the rigid reintroduction plan so as not to further inconvenience or trouble him or those around her. And by Day 35 he had lost all form of Whole30, slopping up potato salad and BBQ sauce by piece of bread. And that girl, after a handful of popcorn, a pinch of cotton candy and half a chocolate chip cookie, she also had reincorporated all of the ‘never again’ food groups. The car ride home Sunday night was tension filled and tainted by his headache, her tummy pains and a facial breakout that pointed to the obvious, their bodies were not tolerating the foods they had so carelessly indulged in once more. In bed by 8:45, they lay there, her, doubled over in stomach pain, him, seeking to sleep off the split in his head.  They had obeyed the desires of their flesh and were broken, longing to be healed. He wanted to buy in, to discover the trigger of his headaches, and while the evidence was promising, he wasn’t willing to commit his lifestyle to heal by way of Whole30. She too, wanted to sell out on the gluten-dairy-sugar free way. It was evident her body flourished under these restrictions. However, her fear of being misunderstood, or offending others with her way of eating held her back from confidence walking forward. They long to be healed, of ailments like headaches, acne, and a sensitive gut, but even more so of their sinfulness, of their obedience to the flesh and insecurity. They long to be unbroken, wholly healed.

They long. They long to be fulfilled. They long to be complete. They long to be wholly restored. They fill up on social media, sports statistics and fantasizing about the future. They set their hope in the way they influence and are adored. They are weary from running, from fighting, from suffering in this world. They want to be finished, to be free, to be victorious. They medicate with happy hour, a shopping spree and half priced baked goods on Saturday night. Oh, to be full. Oh, to be complete. Oh, to be healed.

They long for wholeness. They were created for it. The Jesus Storybook Bible describes it this way, “… And Adam and Eve joined in the song of the stars and the streams and wind in the trees, the wonderful song of love to the one who made them. Their hearts were filled with happiness. And nothing ever made them sad or lonely or sick or afraid. God looked at everything he had made. ‘Perfect!’ he said. And it was.” Perfection. Completion. Wholeness. It was what they were created for, and then things went wrong. They doubted God’s love for them, and they ran far away from him. They separated themselves from His perfection, from a life that was whole. They broke down, fell apart, and had no way of attaining wholeness on their own. They needed a rescuer, a Savior. And God so loved them, that He sent Jesus. Jesus brought healing to those who were broken. He brought hope to those in despair. He lived perfectly with God. And though He was perfect, He was put to death unjustly to bear the separation from wholeness that they deserve. Yet, death had no hold on Him, and rose from the grave to restore a way back to wholeness. And whoever shall believe in Him, will not perish in separation, but will walk in newness, in completion, in healing, in wholeness.

He has fulfilled. He has finished. He has healed.

They are whole.

One Whole30 down, and a long joy filled journey to go, ‘They fix their eyes on their creator, and seek Him who began a good work in them promising to bring it to completion. They submit unto the author and perfecter of their faith, the one who proves them faithful, perfect and complete, lacking nothing. They trust he will supply their every need, restore their health and heal their wounds. In him, their strength is sufficient. They hope in The Day, in the revelation of Christ Jesus when they meet his face in freedom, and He is pleased. In him, they are whole.’ [Phil 1:6, 4:19, 1 Peter 1:7, James 1:4, Jeremiah 30:7, 2 Cor. 12:9]

And from that reality, they will continue to gracefully strive towards practically living out of their wholeness in this broken world, putting the One who makes them whole on display in all the decisions they make, even in simple, everyday practices like eating and drinking.

Advertisements

beyond the finish line

[They were there. They saw it all, every step, every fall. Pummeling along dirty trails, rocky roads and sidewalks sales, the two traversed in stride laying every weight of entanglement aside. Supporting the weight of her restless heart, they gave her an outlet to completely fall apart. From tears, giggles, glee and cheers, to grunts, groans and singing in off tones- fit in them, she was fully known. Free from judgment and full of grace, with weary souls and loosely laced, the two matched tone and submitted to pace. Her faithful companions for 500 miles, they carried her through the most tumultuous trials. The eight-month journey to twenty-six point two could only be credited as experienced in her running shoes.]

20130828-160746.jpgFour months ago to the date, her running shoes carried her 26.2 miles across a finish line. This finish line was symbolic of many thoughts, ideas and experiences. It was the end of an adventure, the reward of discipline, the anticipation of glory, the completion of a goal, but most feared, the turning point into the unknown. With arms high, and heart abandoned, the step that followed four hours and twenty five minutes of running marked the step of surrender; a letting go of dreams, of plans, of expectations, a trust that her way isn’t best, and a longing to know His way as better. The life she’d imagined, she’d dreamt of it, she’d planned it and she was living it. But it wasn’t good enough. She was disappointed. Her expectations weren’t met. She was unsatisfied. Even in the best of what her futile mind could create in wonder and zeal, even in the full exertion of every fiber in her body, it wasn’t enough. The adventure incomplete, the reward too little, the glory fallen short, the goal too small, and the unknown so great. Her plans, her dreams, her imagination, done. Eight months of rigorous training, done. The career she once dreamt of, done. The expectation of his engagement, done. This finish line marked the end of her arrogant attempts to rule the life she’d imagined, and the beginning of what control couldn’t manage. Here, crossing this finish line, the life she’d never imagined, began.

20130828-160820.jpgThe attempt to articulate this life recently begun overwhelms her. Eight half written blog posts lit up in her doc are her efforts to do so. Their appearance on the screen reflect off of the partially consumed cup of coffee in her hand that meets with the lips of her semi-smile of smite as she sits, contentedly at rest, and irresponsibly unemployed. “This is it.” is what she ponders, staring at the screen, “This is life beyond the finish line, life surrendered, life beyond my wildest dreams. This is it. This is grace. This is what I do not deserve. This is it. This is the gospel. This is Your delight in me. This is it. This is redemption. This is it. This is glory. This. is. it.” Maybe she doesn’t know what ‘this’ or ‘is’ or ‘it’ really is, and, maybe her testament of the past three months beyond the finish line could never fully paint a picture that this is it, but she knows this is better; better than what she could have planned, better than what she has dreamt, better than what she asked for, and better than what she imagined.

Because pictures paint a thousand words, and because a thousand words couldn’t articulate this life beyond the finish line, I’ve chosen a few to take you where I’ve been since then.

20130828-160911.jpgShe let go,

20130828-161026.jpg20130828-162122.jpg20130828-161109.jpg

cleared her inbox and to-dos, quit her job, prepped her last clean eat

20130828-160952.jpg

moved to camp,

20130828-161245.jpg

remembered His covenant,

20130828-161156.jpg20130828-161215.jpg20130828-161226.jpg

honked, ran fast and free, met beyonce, became known as ‘momma’, loved like crazy,

20130828-161619.jpg

waved her flag,

20130828-161551.jpg

played in the mud,

20130828-161321.jpg20130828-161346.jpg20130828-161442.jpg

 made eye contact, drank alot of coffee, caught the bouquet,

20130828-161416.jpg

got ‘er done,

20130828-162607.jpg20130828-162653.jpg20130828-162712.jpg20130828-163211.jpg

burnt some bacon, flushed a fork, ate a chop, met some gems,

20130828-161257.jpg

shared her story, experienced grace, tasted the gospel,

20130828-163200.jpg

dominated the dam(n) slide,

20130828-162753.jpg

and at the end of it all, she came home.

This. is. it.

It. is. better.

Beyond her wildest dreams, the life she’d never imagined.