Yesterday’s (or “lasterday’s” as Maren would say) gospel reading is one of my favorites. Every time I read it, I feel Jesus speaking directly to my heart, to my life.
Jesus Walks On Water (Matthew 14:25-33)
When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Peter answered him, Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately stretched out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
We have been going through some challenging times at my house. My son, Drake, began having severe panic attacks this spring. We talked to him, we talked to his teacher, we prayed. The panic and anxiety kept getting worse, even to the point that he had very negative thoughts swirling around in his head.
Drake’s anxiety overcame our family. We couldn’t leave him alone or with one of his older sisters. Siblings were angry, we were overwhelmed and angry. Fortunately, Drake was able to finish out the school year with the resource teacher. We spent many days and nights in tears trying to help him.
As always, the Lord reached out His hand to save us. We made an appointment with our primary doctor, who did extensive blood work for IgG and IgE food allergies as well as a celiac disease/gluten intolerance panel.
The results were not surprising considering Drake’s health history. He showed IgG delayed response allergies to all components of wheat, shrimp, and wild rice. The celiac panel showed that he did not have celiac disease, but he had a “strong positive” to gliadin, which is a component of wheat. His body makes IgG antibodies to gliadin, meaning he has gluten intolerance.
Thank the Lord that our primary doctor is ahead of mainstream medicine in this area. She explained to Drake that many of her patients suffering from severe depression, OCD, and anxiety have had their symptoms completely resolve by eliminating wheat from their diets. Furthermore, she explained that while celiac disease is an autoimmune attack to the gut, gluten intolerance is characterized by an autoimmune attack to the entire body. Researchers have theorized that receptor sites for damage are especially concentrated in the brain. Every time Drake ingests wheat, his immune system over attacked and injured his brain.
Drake’s eyes filled with tears, and I will never, ever forget the tired, sad, yet hopeful look on his face. It made this mama’s heart break. He was angry to go back on the gluten-free diet, hopeful that he could feel better, and doubtful that he would ever feel joy again.
Lord, you reached your hand out to Drake when he was two years old, healing his sick little body. I know you will heal him again, but sometimes the fear and doubt tries to control me. Reach out to Drake, to me, to his daddy, to all of us, pulling us to the safety of Your arms. Amen.
That afternoon, we pulled wheat (and dairy for good measure) from Drake’s diet. For two weeks he endured severe gluten withdrawal—exhaustion, dizziness, mood swings. In some weird, twisted way, I was grateful for the withdrawal symptoms. I knew God was healing him, slowly but surely, on the diet.
Four weeks later, Drake was happy again. The bad, scary thoughts were gone. His doctor adjusted his supplements—increasing fish oil and adding in a small dose of GABA and L-theanine for anxiety. My “baby” boy, our “Drakester,” our “Drake the Snake” was back!
Deep down in my heart and mind, the Holy Spirit kept whispering to me, “Why wouldn’t wheat be affecting your entire family’s health?” You see, I cannot tolerate the smallest amount of wheat. It makes my feet tingle, I become exhausted, and my joints begin to hurt. All five boys in our family can’t tolerate wheat, so why couldn’t it be hurting the girls in our family?
I am so stubborn, but I finally gave in to the Holy Spirit, taking Maren and Britta for the same testing. Sure enough, they showed major allergies to wheat—with a mixture of peanut, walnut, coconut, and milk allergies thrown in to just make life “exciting.”
While the kids were at Vacation Bible School, I got rid of every single food in our house that contained wheat.
Lord, I am angry and resentful that my family has to be so different. Don’t you know this makes every birthday party, every get-together with friends, just plain EVERYTHING hard? Plus, it’s expensive! Reach out your hand to me. Pull me out of my self-pity and save me, Lord. Amen.
You know what’s crazy? The entire time I threw away wheat-containing foods, I was ticked off. This dumb, stupid, blankety-blank cross that the Lord gave me was just plain too hard. I wallowed in self pity and exhaustion.
Well, guess what? It made my life so much easier! No longer do I have to make gluten-free pancakes on one skillet, wheat pancakes on another, constantly worried that spatulas or skillets will get switched, contaminating us with gluten. Kids may complain, but every meal is safe for us all.
Lord, the cross that you gave me actually made my life easier! Imagine that—You knew what was best for us! You always save me, even when I doubt. Why do I fight your saving hand that pulls me out of the water? Amen.
Perhaps the most heart-breaking part of this all is that my wheat-allergic family can no longer receive Holy Communion in the form of Jesus’ Body. Regular hosts contain wheat and gluten. Even the low gluten hosts won’t work because they are made of gelatinized wheat starch.
It is a huge blessing that, during mass, when Heaven touches down to earth and my Lord changes the bread and wine into Jesus’ Body and Blood, I know that I receive ALL of Jesus in the wine or the bread. So, when my family crosses our arms to forgo Jesus’ Body but is able to drink His Precious Blood, we don’t miss out. In fact, we appreciate Communion more because we are different. We put extra thought into receiving Our Lord.
Jesus, this broke my heart. Thank you for reminding me that we still receive You. I’m ready to follow you, picking up my “blankety blank” cross and trying to walk on water again. I have cursed this cross in the past, dragging it behind me and trying to ignore it. Your saving hand gives me strength and always pulls me to safety. Thank you! Amen.