I was recently talking with my mom. She commented that as she has gotten older, she has learned to trust God more and worry less. My mom is in her 70’s.She told me though that she remembers worrying from the time she was 10 years old.And it has only been recently that she has been able to “let go and let God”.
Doing the right thing
When she said this, a red flag went up for me. I couldn’t help but ask myself the question, “Do all those who worry, lack a faith/trust in God?”It implies that if you were a better Christian, you wouldn’t worry.When ever I hear “shaming” statements, the hair on the back of my neck goes up.I have lived years and years of my life feeling like I wasn’t good enough.If I trusted God, I wouldn’t worry.If I was a more disciplined parent, my kids would act better.If I was thin,I would be more lovable.I could go on and on.This is not an emotionally nor spiritually healthy approach.I’m certain God would never shame us in this way.But, for some reason, our culture (including the culture in some church communities), uses this approach to get us to “do the right thing”.
Obsessive/Compulsive behavior in our 4 year old
Since I have been studying nutrition for the last four years, I have learned how our malnourished bodies can react in some unexpected ways.One of the things I have noticed is that lack of nutrients can very much affects ones anxiety level.I first realized this with my daughter Ciara.We started the GAPS diet when Ciara was 6 years old. Before starting the diet, she had suffered for at least two years with obsessive/compulsive fears.At first it may seem cute when your tiny child wants her room perfectly cleaned; her shoes and stuffed animals lined up against the wall.Its cute until a shoe, or a stuffed animal goes missing.Then all hell breaks loose!Ciara would FREAK OUT if one of her carefully placed items turned up missing. Her fear level was through the roof. She would throw herself to the floor, kicking and screaming.And she was not consoled until the lost item had been found.The GAPS diet ended this behavior.By taking out the toxic food and replacing it with nourishing, nutrient dense food, her body received much needed nutrients. Today, she still loves her room neat and tidy.But she is no longer over come with fear and anxiety when something is out of place.
Ciara, at 4 years old, displayed obsessive/compulsive behaviors
Pulling out your hair!
A few months ago, My daughter Josia began to pull our her hair during times of anxiety. She pulled out so much of her hair that she left bald patches. When I realized what was going on, my own fear skyrocketed. (My toxic shame was triggered. What am I doing wrong that my daughter feels the need to do this?!?)I had never known anyone to do this.After researching it, I found that it is an impulse disorder called trichotillomania that is triggered by fear and anxiety.Right away, I diminished Josia’s school load at co-op.This helped significantly to lower her stress.I would check in with her every day, multiple times, to see if she had feelings to process.Despite these actions,she was still very tempted to pick during times of anxiety or worry.After a few months of struggling to keep her hair intact, I placed her on high doses of Folate / B12 supplementation. In my on going study of nutrition, I have learned that Josia likely suffers from the MTHFR gene mutation.This means that her body is not able to process Folate and B 12 in a way that meets her nutritional needs.This can lead to a laundry list of symptoms; anxiety being one of them. Giving Josia this supplement has greatly reduced, if not completely rid her, of the impulse to pull our her hair. What a relief! What a blessing to have found the root cause! (no pun intended 🙂 )
Josia with a head band to cover her bare spots
Temples of the Holy Spirit
What if I had just told my daughters that if they just stopped worrying and trusted God more, their problems would disappear? I think this kind of instruction can turn into “toxic shame”.It’s no longer about their malnourished/malfunctioning bodies.It’s about the fact that if they were “good enough”, if they “prayed enough” then they wouldn’t suffer.I am certain that God is absolutely capable of stopping my girls’ anxiety in its tracks.But in my experience, He usually doesn’t work this way.I believe that God has taught us that our bodies are “temples of the Holy Spirit”. He entrusted us with these spectacular bodies. And if we treat them as such- by putting nourishing fuel into them, I believe we can avoid much of the anxieties that plague us and our children.