A few years ago I developed a sensitivity to MSG, which makes my food choices relatively limited. I shouldn’t complain, I am now forced to eat mostly healthy foods. I read the ingredients label on everything, even a common can of beans can occasionally have a surprise ingredient. When I walk into the grocery store, there are so many choices. Most of them I don’t choose as almost all processed foods contain MSG in one form or another. No more spur of the moment eating out, unless I’d like to order a baked potato and salad with no condiments. For potlucks I plan ahead and take my own salad or make a sandwich. Road trips are an even bigger challenge.
Life has a lot of choices too. Every morning when I wake up I can either lie in bed and wish I could sleep for another 30 minutes or I can get up immediately and have a leisurely morning devotional time. Then when I do get up I decide if should I have morning devotions first or waste some time on the internet reading the news or checking FB? When it’s time for breakfast should I juice again or maybe just this once eat an unhealthy breakfast, even though I know it will make me feel sluggish rather than energized? Then after breakfast should I wash the dishes right away or leave them for later? When my sister calls should I share the latest gossip or just mind my own business? There are so many choices and sometimes it seems like it doesn’t really matter which one I choose.
I recently finished reading the book, “The Practice of the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence. A book that contains the letters and conversations of a seventeenth-century monk who chose to live every moment as if only he and God were in the world. “At any moment and in any circumstance,” Brother Lawrence taught, “the soul that seeks God may find Him, and practice the presence of God.”
Just like I now ultra carefully choose which food items I can eat, I should as carefully choose what I do every moment of my day. Afterall, anything that isn’t good for me is ultimately bad for me. Every moment of every day I should choose to do what is pleasing to God. This idea sounds so great in theory, but putting it into practice requires as much discipline as choosing to eat foods without MSG. It is something I want to do, but at the same time I don’t always like it. Brett and Aspen, for example, can go into Taco Bell and have lunch, but there is nothing on the menu at Taco Bell that I can eat. I can assure you that I know that I am better off eating the snack I brought for myself even though I don’t really want to. I would rather eat Taco Bell just like everyone else. But, I can’t because I do not like the reaction that follows. The same applies to any number of situations that can come up in a day. Someone cuts me off in traffic, the waiter is slow, the kids just made the umpteenth mess in the last hour. I can choose to retaliate in like manner in all of these situations, after all I have a “right” to do that, don’t I? But, just like eating MSG has a negative effect on me physically, choosing a negative reaction will have a diminishing effect on my spiritual experience. When I choose to live each moment in the presence of God, I will choose a positive reaction to negative situations and my spiritual life and connection with God will become stronger.