In 2009 my health had reached its worst. After two years in southern Africa, a few parasites, and a whole lot of emotional stress, my body could not take it anymore.
I was 27 years old, a personal trainer, and a dietitian in private practice, though you would never know it by my health. Brain fog was normal, as was fatigue. I had celiac disease, severe IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), hyperthyroidism, and poor immune function.
By God’s grace I finally found answers, which began my journey into the world of food sensitivities and food restrictions. Within two weeks of changing my eating, all of my symptoms were gone! My body started to function better than I ever knew it could. Every aspect of my life had to change to accommodate this, but it didn’t matter. Feeling good was absolutely worth it.
One evening, my sister had a missionary family visiting that was very near and dear to her and we decided to go out for dinner. I had eaten out many times before and had always figured out something I could eat from the menu. This time it was Mexican food, which was hard. There was nothing on the menu that would work. Even the oil they used for cooking had ingredients I was reactive to.
It would have been fine for me to have my water and enjoy everyone’s company while they ate. But how could the others enjoy themselves to the same degree when I was not eating? In that moment, I realized there is so much fellowship and intimacy that God created in sharing a meal together. I desperately wanted to enjoy this meal with them, but was at a loss of what to do.
Holding back tears, I ran to the restroom, locked myself in a stall, and cried to Jesus for wisdom.
Clear as day He spoke.
His peace overwhelmed me as I processed that command.
I dried my eyes, walked back to the table, looked at the menu with fresh eyes, and ordered what I wanted to order. When the food arrived, we all prayed (over the food AND my body), and I ATE. Food had never tasted so good! There was a freedom in my spirit to enjoy the Lord and His people and this food before me.
After the meal, I was in awe. No reaction. Not one. I actually felt better than I did before we ate. The next day, still no symptoms. A normal reaction would have affected me for several days afterward.
I discovered that Jesus had given me grace for that evening, but my body was not permanently healed. Instead, He was inviting me to learn how to live in His freedom, even with these restrictions. But deep down, I knew He would completely heal me one day.
My husband and I made a decision. When we were invited to share a meal or I didn’t have the choice of what I could eat, we would ask Jesus and the Holy Spirit what was in His heart for me to do. If He gave me peace, I ate. And every time, there was no reaction.
One of the biggest convictions the Holy Spirit gave me was about communion. Despite this severe reaction I had to gluten, I felt convicted to trust Jesus and still partake in communion (which includes gluten-filled bread). It never made me sick.
This season was powerful as I learned about God’s grace. He never expected perfection in my compliance to this organic, healthy, restrictive lifestyle. He actually asked me to let go of perfection and focus on His heart instead.
For three years, this was my life. It was good. I was learning about the freedom Jesus paid for me to have, but I also had built-in boundaries that helped me to learn.
Finally, one morning, everything changed when I heard the Lord say, “YOU ARE HEALED.”