We (Canadians) just celebrated the Thanksgiving Day-long weekend.
During a food-filled family dinner, my pregnant cousin remarked how her midwife requested she restrict her diet in response to a weight issue; there were other reasons I don't quite remember as I was focusing hard to finish my second piece of pumpkin pie.
My cousin now can't consume bread, pasta, rice (anything "white") and a number of other normal-seeming things because of the midwife's decree. The ban is so exhaustive that she was denied her request for some grapes (grapes!) because they contain too much natural sugar.
(As an aside, the first hit on my computer for a "grapes during pregnancy" Google search is a seemingly reputable article extolling the virtues of consuming grapes during the gestation period.)
This new way of doing things led the older, European-born parents at the table to begin to grumble; during pregnancies "back in the day," they asserted, expectant mothers would consume what they wanted and asked us kids to look at ourselves as proof that no harm was done.
I know a number of people who have radically transformed their diets (gluten-free is apparently the way to go now) because some naturopath said so or because a news headline from some random study claimed this or that.
(As another aside, I wonder how many people go and scrutinize the methodology of these studies and look to see who funds them.)
Circling back to me sitting (slouching, actually, from all the food) at the Thanksgiving dinner table, I wondered what society would be like if people -- starting with myself -- listened to God as much as my cousin does her midwife.
As quoted in The Sayings of the Desert Fathers, Abba Mius of Belos said, "Obedience responds to obedience. When someone obeys God, God obeys his request."
This saying should be understood with spiritual discernment, though, not in a legalistic or quid pro quo-like manner; after all, God's mercy is boundless and love for us is ineffable.
Still, we are called to do certain things -- not for His benefit, but for ours.
As recorded in the Bible by both the Apostle Matthew (22:34-40) and the Apostle Mark (12:28-34), Christ says, You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind [and] You shall love your neighbour as yourself.
As the Fathers of the Church teach us, we find our true self in loving one another; but, do we do this? Do we forgive? Do we have mercy? Do we seek peace?
We should do these things not mechanically but out of selfless love (the one word which best describes Christianity) just as the Apostle Paul exhorts in his First Epistle to the Corinthians: Let all that you do be done with love (16:14).
Another simple question: God asks us to remember the Sabbath Day (Sunday, the day of Resurrection), to keep it holy. Do we do this or instead use it as an excuse to sleep in?
We are given the path that leads to everlasting life by God Himself -- the Creator of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible, as we recite in the Creed -- but do we listen and follow it?
We often seek ways to make our bodies healthier and stronger while ignoring the needs of our soul. We often seek ways to extend our earthly life but forget that He came from heaven to permanently destroy death (death!); Christ, who is God by nature, became flesh to divinize all humanity and grant us eternal life.
This immeasurable act of self-emptying love is today too often ignored for the transient "wisdom" of men (cf. 1 Cor 2:5).
If we follow Christ like we follow the latest food phenomenons or workout routine (to say nothing of our obsession with material things), we would each lead much more meaningful and happy lives.
So, the question is: why don't we listen to God and align our actions with His will?