Thursday, April 14, 2011

Learnings from the depths of a detox

On April 1st, I started a 21 day detox. 

I have been doing one for the last three years.  I usually do it in January.  Somehow it slipped my mind this year.  Imagine that!  But, I was snacking too much and putting on a few pounds, so I knew I needed to get the cleanse on the calendar.  Many of my friends participate in some kind of Lenten fast so this seemed like the right time to do it.

My “detox program” is prescribed by a doctor friend out of Austin.  It includes whole food supplements and nasty tasting shakes that you drink twice a day.  But, the real heart of it is that I can eat just fruit, veggies, and baked chicken or fish (4 ozs. twice/day).  This, of course, means no bread, no coffee, no dairy, no coffee, no candy or chips, no coffee or ice cream.  There also means no wine or beer or coffee.  No nuts or cereal.  No coffee or creamer.  No dark chocolate.  Did I happen to mention that I can not have coffee?  All I am allowed to drink is water and herb tea.  Otherwise nothing!  Nadda!  No cheating!

May I just say that the first week was miserable?!  Part of the reason I didn’t do a blog last week was because I was a little afraid of what I would write.  I wasn’t exactly pleasant (you can ask my wife if you need confirmation).  I had a splitting headache.  And I thought to myself, “What in Heaven’s name possessed me to do this?  I am a reasonably well-behaved guy.  I only get to enjoy a few ‘earthly pleasures.’  Why should I purposefully go without them for 21 freakin’ days?!” 

See, aren’t you glad I didn’t do a blog last week?

Interestingly enough, now that I am about halfway through, I actually have some significant benefits to report.  First, I am sleeping hard.  I can not remember when I slept this well in a long, long time.  Second, I have lost some weight. That feels good.  That starts to make it feel like there is a real reward for the misery.  I am also learning to savor the food I do get to enjoy.  I eat slower and enjoy it more. 

However, there is an additional benefit this time around.  It is spiritual.  It is centered around the scripture where Paul admonishes us to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15).  I think it is easier for us (in general) to weep with those who weep.  If the Spirit of God is active at all in our lives, then we are touched by other people’s pain.  When someone we care about is hurting, it seems almost axiomatic.  We will hurt too. 

But, when someone has it good or when something really great happens for someone else, I am not sure it is as easy to enter into their joy.  When something great happens, even for a friend, I often find myself thinking, “Why did they get that?  I work just as hard as they do!” 

I can be envious.  I can be jealous.  When I am on a detox, I can even pout. 

But, something new has been trying to take root in my soul. 

Everyday while I am on this detox, there are people eating and drinking things I wish I could be enjoying.  The opportunity for resentment is high!  Of course, it probably doesn’t help that I have the kind of friends that as soon as they find out I am on detox, they run chocolate chip cookies under my noise just for the fun of it.  I know, I know.  Time for new friends.

The point being is that I could get hacked off that they get to enjoy something I wish I could have.  Therefore, I could spend my time wishing I didn’t have to do without.  OR, I could take joy in their joy!  Rejoicing with those who rejoice is hard for me.  But, this season of refraining from some things I like – while others are free to do so – has given me a wonderful opportunity to practice this discipline.

So, for these last few days as I smell the coffee brewing in the office in the morning, I say to myself, “Thank you, Lord, that my staff gets to enjoy coffee this morning.  I rejoice with them!”  This is so much better (and more mature) than turning off the warmer underneath the pot.

The somewhat surprising thing about this practice is that after getting over the initial hump of “I wish I could have some,” it feels really good to enter their joy.  It feels right.  It feels mature.  It feels (and is) a lot like Jesus.

That is not to say I won’t savor my own cup of coffee on Easter morning.  I most certainly will!  But, for now, I will just take pleasure in you getting to enjoy yours!


Bradley said...

thanks Piet! I needed that!

DVD said...

it's good for me to let my body feel hungry. that's not a sensation I allow. hunger must be sated. implications far beyond the physical...

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