[Part two of a series blogging about this book. Part one is here.]
The first month of Jen Hatmaker’s Mutiny Against Excess is about reducing her intake of food. She cuts everything out of diet but seven food items: chicken, Eggs, whole-wheat bread, sweet potatoes, spinach, avocados, apples. Only water to drink and salt and pepper as seasoning. Right from the start she lets you know – she loves food and seasonings and sauces. This is a hard month for her.
On the first day of the mutiny, she’s looking longingly at a homemade cupcake sitting on her kitchen counter. (It’s there since her kids aren’t participating in this phase of 7). She writes,
It was strange not to pinch a bite off. I stared it down, trying to own it with my mind. I opened my pantry and uttered, ‘You’re dead to me.’ It was all bizarre.
Which reminds me: I’m doing this for a reason. This is a fast, a major reduction of the endless possibilities that accompany my every meal. It is supposed to be uncomfortable and inconvenient. Not because I’m a narcissist but because the discomfort creates space for the Holy Spirit to move. This shake-up of my routine commands my attention. I can no longer default to normal, usual, mindless, thoughtless.
Normal. Usual. Mindless. Thoughtless.
I wish those weren’t words that describe exactly how I auto-pilot through the majority of my days.
Why do I stay up way too late watching TV?
Because I always do – it’s my routine.
Why do I waste my lunch hour on Facebook and YouTube?
Because I always do… what else would I do?
Why don’t I ever brainstorm ways to uniquely encourage my coworker or use my evening to engage with my neighbor?
Because I’ve never done that… it would be different… weird.
For some reason, we’re afraid of the sort of emptiness that a break from the routine offers. We’re so used to living with our brains engaged in the “next normal thing” – we’re lost when the chance comes to imagine what kind of life we’d like to be living.
What Jen realizes during her month of eating only those seven foods is that while her palate most definitely gets bored, she feels so much better than when she was eating junk food. She says
After eating only whole foods and virtually no fast food, my pants are falling off. I feel energetic during my typical afternoon slump. My cheeks are rosy. My allergies disappeared. I haven’t had a single digestive issue. My canker sores went dormant. I swear, my eyes are whiter.
In short, her break from all but seven foods gives her the space to imagine life differently. To actually see the difference in her body, energy level, and physical condition. And she likes what she sees.
I’ve noticed the same phenomenon as I’ve started trying to step aside from the “normal, usual, mindless, thoughtless” that tends to rule my days. Whether it’s in changing how I eat or calling a media fast on Sundays – it gives me a glimpse into what other types of lifestyle is possible.
I often like what I see.
Like Jen, a break from the normal, brainless, usual routine makes me question what I was putting in that routine in the first place.
Do you make space in your life for breaks from the routine? How do you allow yourself to imagine life differently or to implement changes?