Empathy, A Lost Fruit.

My daughter making fruit salad at our gluten-free food party at Hy-Vee!

We started gluten-free at the end of the school year last spring, in what my son calls, “The LONGEST unit study on gluten sensitivity, ever.”

{I know he means that in a good way.}  But with all of my doctors appointments, and feeling increasingly awful most days, it might go down as on of the longest semester for ME, for sure.  We needed a reason to celebrate!  (I love a good party!)

This summer I planned to make one of our children’s birthdays into a GLUTEN-FREE celebration at the HyVee kitchen club!  It wasn’t as much about a birthday party, as it was about sharing JOY in the things we can do, as a gluten-free family.  All of the books we got on celiac disease for the kids, had somewhat of “here is what you’ll be missing” type of attitude.  Not super positive, or what you hope for you kids.

When we started things, it was the end of soccer… the “big” pizza party… and while the kids were totally fine eating the foods they knew they could have (a sandwich picnic on the floor by all of their friends enjoying Pizza Hut)… a part of a mother’s heart breaks, knowing it’s just “one more way” – we are different.

Some things, we choose – one might say.

You chose to have a big family.

You choose to home school.

You choose to eat like that.

That wasn’t really a choice was it?  Unless we are going to choose to be ignorant on the matter – then obviously, it’s not.

Honestly, we don’t see any of those things as a choice in our hearts – but rather, a surrender to our will – for a responsibility to God’s calling for our family.  Different than a majority, it’s not a burden, but a blessing.

When you look at the way of the world – you see how easy it is to get pulled in.  Like a tornado and all of its sucking power… grabbing everything around it, in its path – and spitting out a less than desirable outcome.

It’s hard to stand firm and be different, especially when it’s viewed as a choice.  Whoever said it was easy…. wasn’t being truthful.

OBEYING God… that part is easy.

Explaining it to the world?

That part is difficult.  Almost, impossible.

When I would tell people I didn’t really want children, nor did *I* plan on a big family… but that GOD opened my heart to all of the children we have… it warrants some really, strange looks.

Yes, one or two would have been “easier” or more managable, and perhaps better for my husband’s job, or in the light of the world – within the limits of how America is set up – family of 4 = perfect.   If it wasn’t for God and my husband’s obedience to his calling – I was fine with two also.  God must have known, we needed more sanctification in our entire family – and he sent us 6 more than the “legal limit.

Homeschooling… you KNOW, that has to be a calling, because no one in their right mind would take on being mom, teacher, and every other roles in-between with no breaks.

I agree – we’re nuts.  The world is right on that one.  (I’m only kidding…. I honestly couldn’t imagine it any other way.  It’s a blessing and a honor to be with our children all day, each day – showing them how to love life and learning in ALL aspects of their daily walk.   We hold this calling, dear to our hearts.  Pretty dramatic heart change for someone who was NOT going to home school.  Ever.)  Is it for everyone?  Absolutely not.  We are all part of the body, and hopefully – we’re all doing what we’re called to do, at the point God has us – without too much opposition, especially from other Christians.  (Not wrong.  Just different.)

How we eat.  We choose this – right?  It could be a point to constantly complain about… the price, or the time it takes to plan… or how difficult it makes it to eat out, or travel, visit other people.  Yada, Yada, Yada…

We see it as a gift… a gift to try foods we would never have tried before.  Time to slow down and be with our family, preparing foods as a team…and serving one another.  {after all, kids DO seem to eat the foods well, that they HELP prepare!}  It forces us to think outside of the box… and witness while doing it.  It also has allowed me to do something I’m horrible about doing except for my closest of friends…  and that is:

Share my struggle.

Share a struggle with the outside world that says … “Hey, we aren’t perfect…  and until glory – we never will be… do you struggle too?”

Perhaps at this point, my friends wish I shared a bit less…  but for me, the more people I connect with who are struggling – the more I talk about it in amazement at all God has done and continues to be at work… and there have been A LOT of contacts each week.  More than I would have ever imagined for something “so rare”…

My oldest, showing off his GF pizza creation at the Hy-Vee food party.

In the lack of empathy world we live in, it’s easy to shrug off hurting people and think, “big deal, I have problems too, quit your whining.”  Or as my husband’s family says; “No organ recitals!”

I took on an attitude of never talking about my health issues for years.  Realizing – no one REALLY wants to hear about complaints, they only want to hear good news.  Even in pregnancy I learned to suffer – in silence, to a fault.  There seem to be two camps – those who always complain (they need more empathy), and those who never complain  (they need empathy too, we just need to show them it’s ok to share!)  Being sick was “my normal” for as long as I can remember.  You don’t really consider your life – full of symptoms, when you’re not looking for a common factor cause like an auto-immune disease.  That was just life…  you deal…

Empathy is just not something that is often taught… very few people have this skill, or fruit of the Spirit.  Yet, Jesus shows us empathy… time and time again in God’s Word, and we want more of that for our kids. So it starts with us, as parents.

I believe this has helped give me eyes I used to have as a child –  to seek out others who are also hurting in a similar way – on a daily basis – to reach out in a way that I wouldn’t before due to hurt, pride or selfishness.  (Definitely not in an all-knowing and in your face way, because the only thing I’m an expert on, is myself and my family.)  I pray not… that isn’t my heart.  But rather, in a way that desires more for others too, the way God has blessed us.

Don’t ever short change how God is growing you.  He doesn’t have us struggle for no reason.  It’s with great purpose, and opportunity to share that with others – so that they might also see God’s love through you.

“The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.”

1 Cor. 12:12

Posted on July 13, 2012, in Celiac/Gluten Sensitivity, Change, Our Struggles and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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