I stood at the product table, gripping the DVD case, my breath shortening and my heart rate quickening. How was I going to do this?

Only moments before I’d been released from one of the main sessions of Kids Ministry Conference, produced by LifeWay (where I work).

Tuesday night was an amazing night of laughter and serious spiritual lessons from comedian Michael Jr. and writer/speaker Lisa Harper.

And that’s when the moment of grace hit. Michael Jr. told us that if we struggled to accept gifts from others or couldn’t afford it, to please ask for something from his product table for free. Others could give extra money to make up the difference, if they were able, hence the word, “communerosity.” How’d he know I’d just been sitting there debating my budget in my head in light of how much I enjoyed his humor?

What’s more, how’d he know how hard this very thing was for me to do, accept unmerited gifts from others? I mean it’s not like I didn’t have the money. It’s just that I was saving for this other conference, but his work was worth it and it’d be fine I’d just pay for it and then figure out the other thing later. No, I was working here, I didn’t need to do this, and what if my co-workers saw me and thought I was struggling financially, or worse, thought I was working the system unfairly?

Nah, I had my hand half in my purse, ready to pull out the money. But as I held the DVD, I couldn’t pay for it. And I also couldn’t ask for it. Man, if he’d just said we could take it and walk away it would’ve been so easy. But no. We had to ask for it.

My face flushed hard as I looked up at the girl working the table, thankfully not someone I knew, and heard the foreign words come out of my mouth.

“So, I’m one of those people who could afford it but…”

She smiled and nodded, “but you want to take it?” I nodded embarrassed.

“Are you sure that’s ok?” I was dismayed to feel tears crawling up the backs of my eyes.

“Yes absolutely. I understand, believe me. But it’s ok.” She smiled compassionately at me as I turned away and tried to avoid eye contact with anyone. I was sure my voice had been too soft for anyone to hear, but anyone may have seen me take it without any money changing hands. As I staggered through the lobby trying not to cry, God tapped me on the shoulder in a way and turned me back toward the merch table, where Michael Jr. had only just been coming on scene to sign autographs as I left. I had to thank him.

When I told him my story, he just said, “that blesses me.”

And as I walked away again, I turned that one over and over again. Blesses him? He’s blessed because I just stole a DVD from him?  (Yeah I wasn’t stealing but may as well have been from my reaction at the time).

I know it’s something I need understand because as I turned in at my exit I realized I had just smiled foolishly all the way home.

What’s this have to do with food? The topic of this 31 days of blogging challenge?

Well, the whole incident revealed something I didn’t know was hanging out in my heart, or at least not on this scale. This feeling that when there’s a problem, I have to take control of it and fix it myself. No advice or input from others (not till I’m immovably stuck), no help with money or time or energy from others. I want to be able to say I did it myself. I’ve been that way as long as I can remember. I even remember how I used to take the hardest paths when my family went hiking, wanting praise for my harder accomplishment.

Don’t knock the sense of accomplishment from hard work and responsibility, because I’m not. But it’s easy to go from taking responsibility for what goes into your mouth to making that stuff a god and you its servant and prophetess.

I’m no such thing. And no matter how much I try to seize control of my food, I’ll never be in perfect health, because of sin. So I need to step back a lot here and let God’s grace pour into my diet. And my life.

So as I take a break from the October Unprocessed challenged while I go to wonderful Hutchmoot and then camping with my family, I want to worship God in the way I eat, as much in what I enjoy as in what I abstain from. Because He gives good, gracious, unmerited gifts all the time. Every single day.


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