Thursday, February 21, 2013

Daily Dependence

What are you dependent on?

And I'm not talking about classic addictions like alcoholism or pornography (though those are relevant as well). I'm talking about the things that essentially determine your mood for the day.

Let's take coffee as a simple example.

Does your mood depend on whether you have had your morning coffee?

This is a fairly common one. I've heard the phrase "Oh, he hasn't had his coffee yet" multiple times before to excuse sour dispositions. It is as if we are entitled to a certain set of comfort amenities, and if we don't get these things we earn the right to be disagreeable with others.

"I have the right to do anything," you say - but not everything is beneficial. "I have the right to do anything" - but I will not be mastered by anything. ~1 Corinthians 6:12

Though Paul makes this comment as a lead-in to discussing sexual immorality with the Corinthians, I believe it is still applicable in many contexts. Essentially, there is incredible freedom in Christ, but we must be careful not to give up that freedom by becoming a slave to some worldly object.

Let's stick with the coffee example. I'm not a huge coffee fan, but I like a good cup every so often. And we have the freedom to like, drink, and enjoy coffee. God made coffee beans and we have this refreshing beverage that helps us perk up in the morning.

But in our freedom, we are called to find our complete satisfaction in God. Christ tells us that he provides the water of eternal life and we will never be thirsty again (John 4:14). And so we insult our Lord and Savior when we depend on anything else for our joy and satisfaction in life. In every moment, good or bad, we have a responsibility to honor God and to bring Him glory.

If we actually need something else to allow us to please God in a given moment (like coffee), then our priorities are not right.  God is all satisfying and should be motivation enough to show love to others.

I am aware that my coffee example is silly, but put your own personal addictions in there and what I am saying rings true. We are such an entitled people... if we don't get our morning coffee, or our lunch break is cut short, or they are all out of Skittles in the vending machine, or a breaking news segment cuts our favorite show short we suddenly stop reflecting the loving God who created us and we excuse the sin that results.

The list is nearly endless. Look at yourself and your own habits. What things, when taken away, turn you into someone who doesn't choose to please God first? There you will find your daily addiction to pleasure and comfort. Instead, choose to appreciate those things for what they are, but give every moment to God and reflect his love in every moment, despite the circumstances.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Parenting and Peanuts

Last week my wife and I discovered that our little boy has a peanut allergy. The specifics about the severity and sensitivity of the allergy are still to be determined by an allergist, but any level of sensitivity is overwhelming.

I guess it shouldn't come as a complete surprise, given his general skin sensitivity. Since birth, his skin has been easily irritated by lots of different things. Even some of the "sensitive skin" variants of lotions gave him red, rashy spots... forcing to use plain lotions without any additions (the logic behind all of this blows my mind). Eczema has been linked to an increased likelihood for food allergies.

Nevertheless, it comes as a bit of a blow to my wife and I to not only deal with the changes to our lifestyle, but also to avoid the game of blaming ourselves for our child's condition. The standard hypothesis in the field of immunology for the general rise of peanut allergies in the US focuses on our over-sterilized environment. In theory, because we sanitize the world for our children, they lack the exposure to pathogens necessary to develop a normal immune response to those things that are not pathogenic (such as peanut proteins).

We've gone out of our way to NOT over-sanitize our son's life. We don't wipe off his pacifier every time he drops it at home, we don't wipe every surface he touches, and he interacts frequently with lots of other children. We've been hyper aware of the need for contact with germs in the environment and have allowed him lots of exposure, just short of feeding him mold and the snot of other children. Despite all of this, his body sees peanuts as an intruder that must be attacked.

Our hope is that he will grow out of this allergy. Granted, it is far from the worst medical condition in existence. Many schools and businesses are aware of the dangers of peanut sensitivities and will do what they can to accommodate. And the changes to our lifestyle overall will be minimal if his sensitivity isn't too severe. We simply have to read labels, ask questions, and avoid direct contact (assuming that he isn't sensitive to airborne particles, but there is no evidence that he is).

As a follow-up to this, my wife and I have agreed that it is best if I choose a peanut-free diet as well. First, it gives me the chance to see what my son's life will look like as an adult. I can relate to his experience and share in his frustrations (albeit from the safety of my lack of peanut allergy). Also, it prevents my son from always being the only one left out in social eating situations. For instance, if we go to dinner or a party and the main dish involves nuts, my son and I can avoid it together. It's a chance to bond over a common diet and I really want to serve him in this way.

I love my little buddy and I just want to do my best to show him the love of Christ in all things, despite silly frustrations like peanut allergies!