This essay I wrote last week is the start of a 3-part series of what the Lord has been speaking to me in the last couple of days. I know it's wordy, but I think everyone, even people who don't believe as we do, can glean something from what is written here. I pray you find it a quick, easy read and that it touches you.
I have been thinking about how “weird” we are now. Or so we’re called…haha! I struggle between knowing people don’t want to get it and not caring much about that, but being so excited about these changes and new perspective that I want to share the WHY.
8 years ago, anything but recycling and wearing my pants 2x before washing was “weird” to me. Then I got pregnant and started to look into how the stuff we make and use would affect my child. So we made some choices I was not so comfortable with at the start…I nursed, (and used Lansinoh much to my own dismay…who puts sheep “sweat” on their body!?) we used a cloth diaper service for the first 8 weeks. But as soon as both became inconvenient I stopped. I wasn’t about to go *that* far out of my way.
We still ate fast food regularly, (I am, after all, a French Fry Freak) and bought “normal” things to use around the house. Certain things troubled me, but not enough to research them thoroughly—like reports on the dark side of vaccinations, disposable diapers being linked to infertility later in life, the amount of bad stuff in baby food and the fact that the fruits and veggies were treated with pesticides and herbicides, the fact that breastmilk actually changes based on what the baby’s saliva is lacking—I stored these things in my mind, but didn’t let them change me and what was easy for me.
Between my first and second child, I became a Christian. As I started to read the bible, I wondered how we came so far from where we used to be. Of course, modern technology is my friend and I was taught that all these advances were for the better, but as I looked around myself and saw all the bad in our world I wondered if maybe a lot of this isn’t self-imposed hardship. People didn’t seem to have too much of a problem staying married in our not-too-distant past. People didn’t seem to have problems raising their children. And yes, I’ve heard the stories of abuse and submission (in the worldly sense of the word) and deprivation of wives/children, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that maybe those were not the norm…maybe the norm was, well, Ephesians 5 and that somehow we’ve lost that equality in our quest for equality.
With the birth of our second child, we decided to nurse for longer, co-sleep for longer, eat more naturally, make our own babyfood…all these choices we started to make were based on the premises that God made things a certain way and maybe it was better than the way we do it. Being as our 2nd child was a sound sleeper, a calmer, and more peaceful soul, we were reassured in our thoughts. Being forced to live in a very small place with our growing family helped us to realize that no number of things would make us happy, but only grace from God. When we moved back into a normal amount of square feet for our family size, we kept this mentality and decided not to fill our home with things that would clutter, and therefore not fill our hearts with things that should not concern or take away from Christ.
During the pregnancy of our third child, we were forced to learn to completely rely on God to relieve all our fears and to fill all of our needs. But where do rayon and Downy and McDonald’s fit into that picture? We struggled with our want of small pleasures vs our desire to be the Lord’s alone. Slowly we made some changes that hurt at first, but the logic defied anything we could argue. Things like switching to natural laundry care…if Tide and Downy are bad for baby’s skin, why wouldn’t they be bad for ours? But don’t we NEED our clothes to smell like an April breeze for a minimum of a week while they sit in the drawer, so that when we pull them out we’re comforted? But now our comfort lies in the naturalness of the lack of chemicals. You know what? The clothes smell amazing. They don’t smell like an artificial flower, (which once smelled so good to me and now the scent overpowers my senses when I’m in a room with someone), they smell like fresh, natural clothes. And I always wondered why so many candles, room fresheners, body sprays and even laundry detergents smelled like “clean linen.” Now I know! Vinegar and sunshine (two very natural things, provided by the Lord Himself!) make clothing smell better than anything we could have ever created. Oh, and even better? They’re REALLY cheap.
Slowly changing certain things we had such hard-fast ideas about and realizing there was a simpler, better way, gave us the courage to start to really research those things that had once troubled me, but had set aside for convenience sake. All this stuff you’ve heard us talk about…cloth diapers, wool pants, grass-fed meats, organic fruits and veggies. The thing is, none of this was so “weird” 50 years ago. It was only natural. Our grandparents and great-grandparents would have said, “Why on earth would we spend so much money to throw away POOP? Why would we feed an animal anything other than what it was designed to eat? Why would we treat the creatures who take such good care of us so poorly? Why would we spray things on our crops that could potentially kill the crops or make us sick? Why would we spend time and effort genetically modifying something that is so good already?” Now that we’ve normalized mass-production and chemicals scientists are finally finding in the laboratories that the changes we’ve made are not necessarily good ones. And no wonder! This is not how God designed things to be! Could we, as lowly people, the CREATION, really improve upon what the CREATOR set into place for us?
Don’t get me wrong, I believe lots of improvements are inspired by God Himself in mankind, to help us become better, stronger, healthier, smarter…obviously our society is better off with hand washing as a habit and without slavery or mistreatment of women and children. But we’ve taken God out of the equation totally and gone too far. We can see this in the development of super bugs in hospitals. We can see this in the divorce rate. How many of that 52% of divorcees were really being mistreated by their spouse? We can see this in the way we are FORCED to “accept” people. (But is forced acceptance really acceptance at all? That’s an essay for another day) We can see this in the obesity rate and the fact that the generation behind mine will die before their parents. Improvements that were initially intended to improve the quality of life, but have instead destroyed it. Take for instance, the idea of mass production…it was begun by a wonderful man who wanted to see that everyone could afford to have a car, not just the super rich. That effort was re-directed toward food to see if we could feed everyone, so that no one would starve but it has turned into an industry full of people who don’t care about their consumers, but only about the dollar that lines their pockets, and therefore take shortcuts that do more harm than good.
So all of my research has drawn me to a conclusion: God gave us these amazing things. Things like sheep “sweat” which is so useful for soothing dry, cracked skin in sensitive places where we would not be able to put chemicals. It is useful for making wool clothes able to absorb so well and keep a baby’s skin dry and warm. It is useful for making sure no harmful bacteria colonize on our children. It is 100% natural and sustainable…no animals were harmed in the harvesting of lanolin or wool. If the sheep is mistreated, its fleece will not be a very good quality. If it is not fed or taken care of properly, its lanolin will not have the properties it was designed to have. But if we raise and use the sheep exactly as God intended for us to, it will provide us with warm clothing, all the benefits listed above, more sheep and eventually, when its life is drawing to a close, food. How could we propose to do that better? What arrogance we have to tell God, “no thanks…I’ll take Polyester and be sure it’s sprayed with Teflon and MicroBan before I wear it. That’s less “weird.”” “No thanks, I’ll take my corn supersweet and bred to not be eaten by insects. It’s all the rage.” Do you think maybe God laughs at us sometimes? Like, “haha, suckers…you just paid a lot of money for those pants, but you could have made them for free and had a month’s worth of stews in the freezer, too.” Or, “okay…you eat that genetically modified corn, but there’s a reason the bugs won’t eat it…maybe you should think on that.” Or maybe He just shakes His head sadly, knowingly, when we say, “You know…I think I might pack as many cows as I can onto one acre and since they won’t be getting any grass, I’ll feed them grains because that fattens them up real fast and makes them cheap to raise. Oh, plus the marbling looks nice, so they’ll fetch a hefty price at market.” All the while He’s thinking, “but you’re killing yourself in the process, this “new, improved” cow will make heart disease the #1 killer in your country and then everyone will blame my creation, which I made perfectly suited for you, and you’ll despise the things I made.” I sometimes wonder if our prayers are the ultimate irony when we are crying for life, but it was by our own hands that it was taken.
I can’t proclaim to know what God thinks or feels…maybe He doesn’t even bother worrying about what we shove in our faces or enrobe our bodies with. I also can’t proclaim to be perfect in this…we visited the McDonald’s drive thru a couple times last month. I can say what we’ve experienced, though, and that’s that the closer we get to where our food and clothes come from, the closer we get to God and the more we appreciate His creation. The more we shift toward doing things the way God originally intended, the healthier we are and the better we feel. Our children are more compassionate, patient, loving and understanding. We have a stronger bond. We have more security in knowing that God truly has provided everything we need…we don’t NEED WalMart to provide us with what we require so that we only rely on God for the money (and most of us not even that much!) We are fully aware this is not a salvation issue. We certainly cannot eat our way into heaven. We also cannot eat our ways out. We never intend to alienate people with our choices. But we do want to share this with the people we love. Why wouldn’t we want to share something that has brought us so much comfort and joy!?
Truthfully, it has taken a lot of time and energy to start doing what we’re doing. We don’t do this because we’re lazy or looking for the easy way out. Farming is HARD, being home to raise your family is the hardest job anyone has ever done. But it is also the most rewarding. Learning contentment has been constant since we started traveling this road. We don’t fool ourselves into believing life will be easy, but it will be simpler. And we will find God there. And hey…isn’t that the point?