I’m feeling restful and quiet today, in a peaceful and prayerful kind of way. Last Wednesday, I remarked that I had been feeling really happy and energized the past couple weeks. Who knows how I’ll feel tomorrow, or next week. Being able to feel the ebb and flow of my emotions is, in itself, a good thing. I cherish the deep knowledge that all of these feelings are fleeting and transient.
I’m on Day 22 of a Whole30. If you’re not familiar with this plan, you basically just eat whole foods for 30 days. No grains, dairy, legumes, alcohol, or added sweeteners, even natural ones. Within a few days of starting this plan, it was clear to me that I’m still the girl who thrives on discipline. I LOVE having strict rules for my diet. It makes me (and my blood sugar!) feel under control. Needing to take very little insulin each day was like achieving a little gold star…from whom, I’m not sure.
Focusing on my diet has extended to my family as I’m reading Grain Brain and learned that the medical community is realizing what we diabetics can clearly see on our glucose monitors, grains and refined sugar are not good for our bodies. Dennis and I have absolutely observed how refined wheat has impacted Sienna’s ability to focus and concentrate at school. As a family, we’ve embraced a grain free diet and she is a very enthusiastic participant. Last week, I overhead Sienna playing “paleo restaurant” in the bathtub and had to choke back my tears. It’s brought me such joy to make her delicious, healthy food and watch her devour it!
Meanwhile, I’ve been training for a marathon and running longer distances each weekend. Setting a goal and making the effort to achieve it, likewise brings a sense of accomplishment and control.
Riding this high the past couple weeks, I found myself prayerful considering whether I was falling into a place of striving to control my emotional state. A lot of planning goes into eating whole foods and long distance running training. Was I feeling so “up” because of my hyper focus on planning? Did I feel happy because life felt controllable?
As it happens, I started feeling a little uneasy and apprehensive last night, for no particular reason that came to mind. After reading for a long time and dismissing some passing thoughts about how well I’d fall asleep, I ended up tossing and turning for a long time last night. When I woke this morning, I felt that tinge of dread that I’d be exhausted and anxious today. Instead, I decided, “This is a good day to practice acceptance and being mindfully in the moment.” I prayed Proverbs 3:5 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths. Then, I got up to make paleo pancakes for my family.
I now recognize that those nights when I don’t fall asleep quickly are gentle little reminders to surrender and stop trying to control my feelings. When I first read The Happiness Trap, I was struck by Dr. Harris’s observation that a full life involves the entire spectrum of human emotions. That concept was something I could embrace. Instead of a goal to be “happy” my focus became living the “full life” that God has providentially given me. This full life was going to involve anxiety, sadness, anger, frustration, joy, fear, delight, excitement, boredom, etc.
A couple years ago, I’d still see this transition from high to relatively low as a problem, or at least a negative. But, time and experience has shown me that this is just life. It’s real. It’s not super fun and happy all the time. If I still needed to feel in control, my struggle switch would flip and I would strive to feel “okay” again. Now I know that staying present, defusing my unhelpful thoughts, and letting my feelings change on their own, is the healthiest mindset.
Acceptance is a beautiful thing.