Recently, I made a decision to pursue healthier eating and more consistent exercise.
After a visit with my doctor, I was convicted that I needed to take my eating choices more seriously and to make exercise even more of a priority. My doctor suggested that I read a book called "Anti Cancer" which was written by a doctor/scientist who himself had beaten brain cancer and a relapse. The author (David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD) explained some of the subtle and easy changes that can be made in order to live a healthier life and to make the body a less hospitable cancer host.
Although I don't have cancer, improving the way I eat and live will bring me positive results in the long run. I have only one body here on earth, and I have a responsibility to take care of it now so that in 20 or 30 years I will be less likely to develop any number of conditions - diabetes, heart disease, and cancer included.
Because of my toxic mold and pesticide exposures about 11 years ago, I already know that I have a higher chance of developing cancer than the average person. Being in an environment where I breathed carcinogens and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that affected my immune system and my nervous system caused me to have a number of symptoms indicating my exposure had reached toxic levels.
I suffered from extreme fatigue, swollen and sore lymph nodes, mental confusion and disorientation, constant dizziness, nosebleeds, disequilibrium, inability to multitask, frequent urination, severe gastrointestinal distress, weight loss, headaches, severe muscle aches, muscle twitching, sore throats, irritability, memory problems, and the need to sleep constantly.
During that very dark time, it was hard for me to be around even the most "innocuous" household chemicals. My system was overly sensitized and reacted to things that don't bother the average person. I felt sick from pesticides sprayed in grocery stores and movie theaters. The herbicides used by neighbors or around school would disable me completely. My environment seemed to set me off no matter where I went. Perfumes, cigarette smoke, even the detergent aisle would make me sick.
I've come a long way since those years of early chemical sensitivity through avoidance and slow recovery over time. It has been hard for me to accept, but the damage has been done, and my autonomic nervous system does not function like it should. This damage is a long-term consequence of events that happened years ago. Though I did not have control over those events or their consequences, I do have the power to make healthy decisions now that will positively affect my future.
In the past week or so, I have cut out most of the sugary desserts I used to use as comfort food. I have sought out organic fruits and vegetables as a snack rather than just grabbing whatever carbohydrate is nearby. I am also learning the powerful effects of antioxidants like the ones in green tea. Even though my illness prevents me from overdoing it on aerobic exercise, I have looked into stress-relief yoga and tried various DVDs from the library. I am trying to walk more often and stay consistent with taking my vitamins. I realize that all of these choices are small and rather inconsequential now, but they add up over time.
It's funny to me that this weekend, even after all of the healthy food and yoga attempts, I still felt terrible. It's hard to do the right thing and still get unpleasant results. Often, that's what determines our will to go on, the strength of our perseverance and desire to succeed. Can I overcome that hurdle to keep making healthy choices? Or will I go back to a hit-and-miss lifestyle of doing and eating what feels good in the moment?
I think spiritually the same theme applies. I am making choices daily to cling to God. I exert my will to seek him out in the Bible, to worship him through finding praise songs to sing, to listen to sermons online even when I can't be at church, and to pray regularly, pouring my heart out to God. I believe that these are the decisions that keep the soul from succumbing to the toxic spiritual exposure of living in a godless world - a world that wants to do what feels good now without regard for what will happen after death. How easy it is to be lulled into the false sense of security of this life that seems to go on day after day without end. How easy it is to subscribe to "if it feels good, it must be right."
But God commands us to live a different way. Moses was commended for his faith because he chose "to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeing pleasures of sin." Whenever we obey God's word over how we feel, whenever we do the right thing and show compassion rather than judgment, whenever we cling to Christ rather than caving to the world, God sees it, and he rewards it.
I am encouraged today that even though I have not yet seen the realization of my answered prayers, I know those blessings are coming down the line. He blesses the man and woman who wait on him, who cling to him, who daily make the tough choices to keep going even when the immediate results don't seem fair.
Keep going on your journey with Christ because God's delays in reward are not his denials. In fact, His greatest rewards for us have yet to be seen!
"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him"
1 Corinthians 2:9