I remember eating strawberries with our daughter while she was in her highchair, and by the time I got to work, my eyelids were swelling and itching like crazy.
That was about twelve years ago.
What followed was a skin test that revealed I shouldn’t eat strawberries, shellfish, or legumes and that my throat would close if I ate peanuts. (Thankfully I was given an epinephrine shot after that test!)
A few years later, I started getting sick all the time. I dealt with severe stomach pains, fatigue, bloating that was so bad I’d start the day in jeans but by the end of the day had to switch over to sweatpants, hives that once grew to the size of silver dollars and sent me to the doctor for a shot, and some other unpleasant symptoms.
I was given a blood test for food allergies. I tested positive to over fifty foods. Fifty.
I cried a lot that day.
I tried not to talk about it too much, but I was deeply discouraged and depressed. There wasn’t anything anyone could do. I was simply told to avoid those foods. Of course I didn’t mind staying away from radishes and Brussel sprouts, but I hated giving up wheat, milk, and tomatoes which translated in my brain to one word: pizza. (Sure, I cheated sometimes. But I paid for it for days.)
But the worst part wasn’t saying goodbye to my friend, Mr. Pepperoni and Cheese Pizza, it was the social aspect, the feeling of not be able to join in when there were meals at church or going out with friends to dinner. Oh sure, I could go, but it was downright painful to look at all the food I couldn’t eat (the wonderful, rich, and delicious varieties of food) knowing I should stick with a salad (no cheese, tomatoes, or croutons, please!) and the dressing I made at home. I was asked if I was on a diet, why I didn’t eat more, and sometimes caught glances that said something like, “Wow. You sure are a picky eater.”
What did I do about it? Well after I cried a lot (I already mentioned that, didn’t I?), I went to God. More than I cried. I begged and pleaded. I prayed and prayed. I read Scripture about His healing. I read verses about hardship and perseverance. I read about Paul’s thorn and God’s grace.
And I went to the altar. I went forward during church services at our home church (then and now), when we were visiting other churches, during revivals. I was seeking God’s healing touch while I was in the store looking for xanthan gum and quinoa flour, while I was mixing my salad dressing and packing lunches at home, when I was making the trip to buy bulk rice and tapioca flours.
God knew what I was going through. Of course He did. But He didn’t heal me.
Not until October 28, 2018.
It was a Sunday, and our Pastor asked if anyone wanted to come forward. I can’t remember everything he said, but I know I heard, “If you want more of God…”
I was on my feet. I wasn’t thinking about food. Not one bit. I just wanted to be immersed in God’s presence.
And I was. God wrapped me up in His glorious presence and brought me to the floor and knocked those food allergies right out of my body. (Praise God!!)
I can’t even explain how my heart swells, how thankful I am when I stare at a plate of food (like pizza!) I can actually eat and enjoy; one that no longer sends me to bed for hours in my sweatpants or makes my face break out in hives. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve giggled over the taste of something I haven’t eaten in years or the kid-in-a-candy-store face I’m sure I make when I get to visit the buffet at a restaurant with friends.
There is so much more to write, dozens of things I’m learning from all of this; obeying God by using wisdom and moderation is a biggie. (An example of wisdom: the pizza I found in our freezer and used in the above photograph expired in 2017! So even though it smelled great when I heated it in the microwave for its little photo shoot, I’m throwing it out! 🙂 )
But today, my friend, I need to leave you with a few things I learned that I hope will help you if you’re struggling:
Don’t give up. Never. Ever. No matter what lie the enemy is whispering. No matter what’s going on with someone else. You. Keep. Going.
Keep seeking God. Always. In all things.
Trust God’s timing. Seriously.
Don’t be discouraged in your waiting. Take a deep breath. I know it’s hard. But you’re going to make it. Hang in there.
And always remember: God’s got you, my friend. He sees you. He knows you. And He cares.
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV.)
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8 NLT.)
“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” (Luke 18:1 NIV. This is the parable of the persistent widow.)