About a year ago, I was introduced to Paleo eating, and removed all wheat and grain products from my diet and most dairy (I’ve long been lactose intolerant anyway). It was and is a challenging way to eat. It also dropped my blood pressure 30 points, and left me with perfect blood sugar and cholesterol counts (despite intentionally eating a high proportion of saturated fats and a lot of eggs), and reversed what had been a galloping movement toward an auto-immune disease. While I may be facing the possibility of cancer, I’m doing so in a lot better basic health than I had last year.
I’ve invited others to consider eating this way, and pretty well get the same response, “I’d have to give up my favorite foods. I’d rather just take some drugs (and ignore their cascading and often deadly side-effects) to try to deal with my high blood pressure/high cholesterol/diabetes/auto-immune situation that way so I continue to eat what I want. I don’t want to give it a try. Too much trouble.”
One of the leaders of the Paleo eating movement, Robb Wolf, just wrote about trying to convince someone to change to this way of eating. I found his thoughts moving, with multiple parallels to the pastoral life. The post is here if you want to read it, but do be aware that he is pretty salty with his language.
What struck me the most is his awareness, which is also my own, that no one can convince someone else to change who is disinterested in getting unstuck. Wolf writes, “I love helping people, I want desperately to get this information out to folks and see them thrive and live a long, productive life. But I will not waste my time on someone unwilling to change.”
A couple of Sundays ago, I encouraged people (and me) to take the word “try” out of our vocabularies and either do what needs to be done, or recognize that we are not going to do it and so there is no need to be fooling ourselves or others. So when people say, “I will try to be more faithful about church attendance (or prayer or anything else to do with a healthy and vital spiritual life),” I know that nothing will actually happen. The words, “I will try” are a set up for excuses and failure. Either I, and you, will, or we won’t.
Either I will pray today or I won’t.
Either I will offer my life to God to serve the world today or I won’t.
Either I will love my neighbor as myself today, or I won’t.
Either I will recognize that I am a steward of the gifts God has given me and will use them accordingly to open doors to the kingdom of heaven today, or I won’t.
Either I will live as one called by the name “Christian” today or I won’t.
There really isn’t a middle ground here.