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Lentil Soup: A Recipe For Salvation
Guest Post by Braelynne Morrow, RD
My acceptance of Jesus, my salvation, was realized because of lentil soup.
Originally, Hayden, my boyfriend at the time and now fiancé, had wanted to spend time making a nice meal for dinner on Sunday, but then remembered I had wanted to find slow cooker recipes, so he suggested that instead. I found one for lentil soup. I knew he wouldn’t be thrilled, but it would be healthy at least.
Hayden looked the recipe over as we were getting ready to leave for church. We’d decided an hour ago to go to the 9:00 o’clock service. “Can we add sausage to it?” He asked, unexcited about the current option. I felt defeated. I wanted lentils because they were hearty without meat. But I supposed it really wouldn’t be the worst thing to add sausage. It might be potentially beneficial, in fact, as it would add flavor and satiation…“Maybe?” I replied.
On one hand if we ate more Paleo based, sausage wasn’t so bad as long as we didn’t have bread (which I’d already resigned to eating because it sounded too good that day to have with soup), but from a vegetarian perspective sausage was heart disease in a casing, though bread and lentils were perfectly fine. From a dietitian’s perspective, it wasn’t the most nutritious food, but it was okay once in a while. So why not add it?
Well, what if it was too heavy and fatty and I felt gross after eating it? Would it make me gain weight? And I’m okay with eating bread and beans today, but bread and meat together is doubling up on controversial foods. I guess it would depend on what the sausage was made of. And how much fat and protein it actually contained. I’m not afraid of fat, but animal fat is definitely less desirable…
How burdensome! I did this almost every day every time I ate. It truly was a nuisance and a poor way to spend valuable time. I’d been trying to reform my mindset, but I still struggled sometimes. I continued to debate with myself from the time we left the apartment until well into the service at Eliot Baptist in Eliot, Maine. I knew I should be focused on the service, but I couldn’t help figuring out this sausage dilemma.
I was still debating when I stopped for a moment to listen to a choir member discuss how he and the worship team leader had been thinking about the same song to sing that day. He began to tear up as he squeaked out, “That’s God.”
Was it God, though, or was it just a coincidence? I thought. I felt as though this question had come up a lot lately. In Bible study that past Thursday, some of the women had been thinking of the same scripture and remarked “That’s God.”
Was it? Hayden and I had been talking that Friday about how things came to be, how people acted, and what was a coincidence and what was God’s will. I didn’t know.
A little while later, I went back to the sausage quandary as the choir began another song. I had been trying harder lately not to think as much about food, eat more intuitively, and avoid being affected if what I ate wasn’t “perfect.” Life was more enjoyable that way. Many people had been teaching me that.
For so long I had gone back and forth about controversial foods, between avoiding those that may have negative side effects and enjoying foods I loved. And at various points in my life, I had restricted my diet so much and became so fixated on health that I was further from it than ever. Not eating enough or in balance caused me to be fatigued and anti-social and brain fogged.
How was I supposed to help others with their nutrition – one thing I knew I was meant to do in this life – if I couldn’t even find the energy to live and function normally? How was I supposed to help others if I couldn’t help myself? These questions plagued me daily. I wanted life back so that I could continue my journey.
I decided at that moment that I had been making progress in reforming my mindset around food choices and that my rule recently had been: if it’s real food: eat it.
We could put sausage in the soup, I decided. And at that moment I began to listen to the choir and the church singing. “Thank you, Jesus, you set me free…”
Yes, thank you, Jesus, for guiding me to this conclusion, setting me free from this burden of debate. Wait. Oh my word. Thank you, God, for guiding me to this moment right here.
It wasn’t just a coincidence: it was God.
It wasn’t a coincidence that Hayden became more present when he did at one of the lowest points in my life, telling me, “I am here, and I want to help you.” It wasn’t a coincidence that he brought me to First Baptist in Meredith, New Hampshire.
It wasn’t a coincidence that my mom often asked me to teach Sunday school, forcing me to meditate on my beliefs. It wasn’t a coincidence my friends brought me to InterVaristy at St. Lawrence University. It wasn’t a coincidence that I declined a job offer, came back to Meredith and had many critical conversations about God and religion with coworkers, friends, family, acquaintances…the list goes on. It wasn’t a coincidence that God had become more present in my life for the past year and a half.
It also wasn’t a coincidence that during that time frame that…
- I began listening to podcasts about women’s health and intuitive eating (one of them hosted by an RD who is very open about the power of faith in God);
- I was placed at the UNH Health & Wellness Center for my community rotation during my Dietetic Internship to work mainly with students with eating disorders;
- One of my best friends had been describing to me and sharing with me in full detail her experiences and thoughts throughout her journey healing from an eating disorder;
- My cohort during my internship was assigned to develop a presentation about eating disorders;
- I attended a presentation about the connection between eating disorders and GI issues at which I finally realized that I shared similarities with the patients the presenter described;
- I applied for a job to help clients with eating disorders, which I’m glad I didn’t get because I definitely wasn’t ready yet;
- I made a food-focused Instagram where I follow mostly Registered Dietitians and other health professionals preaching intuitive eating, women’s health, anti-diet culture, and that God should be the focus of life, not overanalyzing food choices;
- When I felt I was struggling most with my health and didn’t know what to do because it wasn’t just affecting me anymore I asked God for help and He answered.
It wasn’t a coincidence that Hayden introduced me to Eliot Baptist after moving to Dover. It wasn’t a coincidence that lately at the forefront of my mind was the desire to feel what Christians felt: an absolute trust and amazement in God and His glory.
I knew He existed, but I wanted to form a relationship, to feel Him in my heart and soul, yet I still had questions and reservations. Being science-focused for my entire career it’s harder for me to firmly believe something without seeing it for myself, without solid evidence.
But now I had it.
God truly was amazing, I thought, as I stood in awe realizing all that He’d done for me, all that He’d done for everyone—how could I not believe in Him, praise Him, thank Him, live better for Him?
In that moment as I sang “Thank you Jesus” I couldn’t help the tears flowing down my face. I wanted to sob in joy with the overwhelming feeling of God’s presence as I felt myself surrender my reservations and fully accept Jesus and my salvation. It was the most wonderful feeling, unlike any I had felt before.
“You’ve given me life, you’ve opened my eyes…” sang the church as I stood and cried. I was saved once, and now I was being saved again. I had to fully live this life I was so graciously given. And I could see it so clearly now: I was saved for a reason. I’d gone through the experiences I needed in order to learn, so that I could help others in similar situations, but I couldn’t do so until I fully healed.
“I love you, Lord,” they sang. I love you, Lord, I thought, and for the first time in my life, with deep sincerity and adoration, which only made me cry harder because it had taken me so long to feel it.
I finally realized I didn’t have to stumble through life alone. I would always have constant support and trust in Him. I questioned how I had been living up until this moment—how I’d been living without God. I felt safer, calmer, kinder, loved.
How I approached tasks, problems, people–would be forever changed. I would be forever changed. And everything I dealt with from now on, whether joyous, daunting, tragic, would be okay because I’d face whatever came with God by my side, reminding me to be forgiving, gracious, and brave, celebrating with me, grieving with me.
I grieved for those who lived without God, and how frightening it must be to face life and death alone. And how their eyes are closed to the wonders of God’s creation. Up until this moment, I felt I was missing something—and often I thought I needed other things: other things in my relationship, in my career, or in my family, but God’s love was that missing piece and now life had new meaning, and I was excited to live it fully.
There was more to existence than getting so caught up in trivial personal problems. With this love and security, I felt I could finally turn my focus away from myself and onto others and onto Him.
It wasn’t a coincidence I had decided to make lentil soup that day. “Christ my savior, you rescued me…” the church bellowed with spirit, lifting their hands to the Lord. Thank you, Jesus! God had been sending me a message over and over again through people, experiences, and information, guiding me to Him and to this place of healing, keeping me on my path, telling me: “I am here, and I want to help you.”
And I was finally listening.
Braelynne Morrow, RD is from Meredith, New Hampshire and the owner of Lettuce Beet Real. She believes that there is no one diet that works for everyone, but rather nutrition recommendations should be tailored to each individual.