About two months ago, my doctors called me to discuss the blood work I had gotten done. What I was hoping to be a phone call that provided me with answers turned out to be a voicemail saying “please schedule an appointment to discuss your results.” Four weeks later, I found out that I am egg, beef, wheat, and dairy intolerant and was put on a strict elimination diet – ridding myself of just about every food group that isn’t lettuce or water.

My oh my, was my world rocked. I didn’t understand why this was so difficult and different for me – wasn’t I glad that I wasn’t eating loaves of bread that would just go straight to my thighs? Wasn’t I excited at the opportunity to try new and different foods I hadn’t considered before? These last four weeks have been hard, have been testing, have changed the way I look at food, at myself, at the world. What felt like a vacation at first soon dawned into everyday life. What seemed like an adventure soon forced myself into yellow zones I never knew I had.

My relationship with food has never been simple. For years I struggled with the idea that food brings nourishment and nourishment allows me to live my life to the fullest. It seemed that when I finally quit looking at the nutritional information on boxes, I had to begin looking again – just at the ingredients this time.

When I first decided to give up every drink besides water a half a year ago, I never imagined that in addition to this voluntary hole in my diet, there would be an even larger involuntary one. I never imagined that when I ripped a comfort out from underneath me, the rug would continue to be pulled away. When coffee could no longer be my coping mechanism, I searched for that in other things. When all the foods I loved got taken away, I felt uncomfortable in my own skin. I didn’t know what I could eat, I didn’t know what I should do in social situations, I immediately felt trapped outside of my comfort zone, unsure how to continue on.

I feel difficult. When I go to a restaurant, I spend the entire car ride reading their nutritional information online only to have to modify what I order or call ahead to make sure I can consume what they are serving – making me feel needy and picky. I have to ask my kitchen manager at my full-time job at a camp cater to my food needs – hoping and praying that she can feed me well, and feeling the whole time like I need to just go feed myself.

I am learning. In the midst of the situations where I feel the most difficult, I learn that it is okay to care for myself and to allow others to do the same for me. That when my name ends up on a “no dinner” list, I’m allowed to ask for a meal. That when my best friend goes out of her way to make sure both my heart and stomach feel loved and tended to, I don’t need to feel apologetic – because the people that love me want to walk this hard new road with me. I’m really good at caring for others, but I am awful at allowing others to care for me. I don’t have to have it all together – that’s what my friends and the Lord are here for. I’m finally understanding the reality of needing care, but I am still unsure of what that will look like for me.

I am learning not to be stubborn. That when I am in Pittsburgh for the day and the only food I can consume is potato chips and the lettuce meant for the hamburgers, I can say “yes, please” when my roommate tells me she will walk with me to find food – instead of the “no, it’s okay” that came out of my mouth. That when someone makes me a salad covered in eggs and cheese, I’m allowed to ask for a new one instead of picking up each piece of lettuce and shaking the things I can’t eat off. That when my best friend calls me and says “can I get you anything?,” I should ask for my favorite trail mix.

The Lord is working through all of this. Right now, I sit here in a coffee shop, drinking a mug of hot water with a bit of local apple honey I bought at the country market, and open my bible to Jeremiah 31:9: “I will lead them beside streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble.” The Lord is leading me beside only water – and the beauty behind the water cannot be lost in the midst of my brokenness, as it remains as the beautiful power of the Lord. When I feel like I’m falling, He is teaching me something. When I feel uneven, unsupported, unsure: I need to look below my feet and see how secure they are in the Lord.

The Lord continues to show himself through my food restrictions. When you ask for the Lord’s care, He will be there the second you surrender. I can’t do anything on my own, and it’s about time I allow the Lord to sit with me through all things new and all things uncomfortable. When I was stranded on a bus on the side of the highway, the only way I was going to get food is by asking for help – and for the granola bar in my coworker’s backpack.

My diet isn’t supposed to be forever like this, but what if it was? It would be okay. I would be okay. I will find comfort in the clarity of pure water and in the nourishment that comes from healthy eating and from a healthy relationship with the Lord. I will be glad in the lack of reactions my body is having because all the food it rejects is no longer a part of my digestive system – and hopefully – my worries, fears, and feeling of inadequacy and stubbornness will be washed away in the all-consuming steadfast love of the Lord.

| Want to support my dream to provide clean water to those all around the world? If I can give up coffee (and everything else) for an entire year, you can go without a mug or two and donate the money that would have cost you. You can do it, I know you can. http://justwater.causevox.com/emilygallihugh |


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