For quite some time I've been wrestling with the need to make better choices for our family's health, both in the products we use and the food we consume.
I don't consider myself a big health nut but I admit I do like to make educated decisions when possible. :)
We didn't eat a lot of ready-made foods, at least my definition of ready-made. We didn't consume a lot of pop or juice. We made most of our meals from scratch. We brushed our teeth regularly. We practiced good hygiene. Stuff like that. :)
So what was all this hype about "natural" stuff? Back then I didn't know and frankly, didn't much care. It didn't really apply to me as far as I knew or cared so I didn't concern myself about it.
But then I became a mom.
In many ways, I wish I could say I still didn't care. Didn't know. Ignorance is bliss, right?
Suddenly however, I was no longer responsible for just my own health. I became responsible for the health of two of the most precious people on the planet.
Much of the responsibility for their health and well-being now rests squarely on my shoulders. Not only am I responsible for the health of my children but my decisions can greatly affect my husband's and of course my own long-term health as well.
And I don't like the weight of it. I'd much rather shove the responsibility on to someone else. Someone I trust of course. Someone a lot more knowledgeable than myself preferably.
But here I am. No one is coming forward to take the job and so I, like the rest of you mothers out there, must shoulder that burden along with the rest of my responsibilities. I must give it my best go and educate myself to make wise choices.
As I'm gradually coming to realize, there is so much more to healthy living than I thought.
So much about our world has changed in North America since the days when our grandparents were children or raising children of their own.
Our diets have changed in subtle but important ways. Our culture has shifted away from home-grown, home-baked, home-made, home-canned goodness to many commercially produced foods that range from fresh produce, meat and eggs to junk foods that have little resemblance to and can barely be traced to any of the food God provided for us in nature.
Some of the food we eat hardly qualifies for any of the major food groups.
Perhaps if there was a new food group labeled “toxic, chemical-laden, less than 5% natural food matter” we’d find it easier to steer away from some of those highly processed junk foods!
Many of us aren’t really sure what all those fifteen-letter words are in ingredient lists.
We’re so used to seeing them that we don’t give them much thought. They’re just there, one of those mildly (or highly, depending on our level of concern) disconcerting things in the back of our minds.
Of course there’s many other issues that can and are taken up: the quality and origin of the fabric our clothes are made of, the chemicals found in baby care products, in medicines, in cleaning supplies, in almost anything we commonly use or buy, in fact.
Few things sold in our local supermarkets seem to be free of all suspect ingredients. Some of the practices that we’ve adopted or had handed down to us from previous generations are found to be potentially harmful.
Medical guidelines change; alternative health options are cropping up everywhere we look and someone is always trying some new miracle fix for one health issue or another.
So how do we navigate these sensitive topics? When should we consult a family doctor or a naturopathic doctor?
How do we sort through all the information? How can we keep it all in perspective? How does it fit with Christian faith? When do we draw the line and when is it too much?
I don’t have all answers. I don’t expect you do either. It seems North America as a whole is slowly moving toward change: change in the way we view our healthcare and the decisions we make regarding the health of ourselves and our families.
And that's good. I don't believe this conversation is going to go away right away; in fact it will likely increase as we become more aware of the damaging practices we have come to accept as normal.
No, I don’t have all the answers but there is one answer that works for me.
God has a plan for me and for my family and I know I can trust Him with it.
Maybe I don’t know what our health care should look like tomorrow or what decisions are in our best interests for the future.
But I can certainly trust Him to help me one day, one moment, one decision, one small change at a time.
I can’t usurp God’s authority nor do I want to - although it probably looks like I’m trying to when I seem to forget that I don’t know it all and never will.
No, I don’t need to know all the reasons or all the scientific data behind each health change we make. I don’t need to have expert traditional medical and alternative health advice for all the decisions that must be made.
I just need God; He’s done a great job of keeping this world spinning in space and of protecting my family and I over the years. I know I can trust him to lead us through the questions and challenges surrounding the health decisions of the nation and especially the health decisions I make between my family and our doctors.
(Now if I can just continue to remember that...!)
I'd love to hear how you find your way through questions like these. Share what works for you in the comments!
Read Part 2, What Does God Say About Our Family Health Care?, here.