Think Cellular

posted in: Woman to Woman Newsletter | 0

This year, our Summer Sampler theme dovetails with our mentoring endeavors. As you know, by design is dedicated to fostering healthy spiritual mentoring relationships among the generations. As we seek to learn from each other, one concept that comes up frequently is the desire to learn from those before us and pass on our experience to those coming after. In this series, we will learn the hard-won lessons from women who have been walking with the Lord and have some wisdom to share. We hope that you’re blessed and enriched by their stories.

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Think Cellular

By Tammy Schutt

These days the word “cellular” is associated mostly with mobile phone technology – but this is not about that! This reflection is about the human body and, more specifically, the trillions of cells in each of us. These microscopic organisms work on our behalf day in and day out. But unlike all the other living things in our lives – like kids or pets – we rarely listen or attend to them until they demand our attention. Why is that?

I have an autoimmune disease that tried to garner my attention for decades. Those all-might-not-be-well signals were listened to halfheartedly, with a bit of a head nod, but I didn’t really listen. What was their message? My younger self wishes I understood better the role of these cells and how they communicate. That sounds a bit nerdy, I know. If you are battling a chronic disease or have unexplainable, bothersome symptoms, you may be echoing this same sentiment.

School teachers had taught me about the body’s cellular structure and the importance of mitochondria. Those cellular worker bees break down the food we ingest, and they give us energy. And who doesn’t want more of that?! The amount of energy we receive is based on what we ate yesterday! Crazy, right? Although this is embarrassing to admit, that critical link between what’s on my plate and the specific needs of those cells was lost on me.

It is true that my generation grew up at a time when convenience foods were introduced as time-savers for moms. Breakfast cereals, boxed mac & cheese, hot dogs, and even PB&J sandwiches were rolled out as ways to alleviate labor-intensive meals. Those foods were advertised to have nutritional benefits, and when combined with “an apple a day” or a carrot stick, it all seemed balanced.

It is important to note that the autoimmune disease I am battling was not caused by the food I ate, nor by the food I did not eat. Something else caused it. But here is my quandary: If I’d been more thoughtful or intentional when I was younger about how to ready my cells for today, would history have played out differently? I do not know the answer, but it has changed how I think about food. It has also changed how I think about my body’s nutritional needs.

My older self is learning to be more purposeful, determined, and unwavering about what is allowed into my mouth. In a chucklesome sort of way, I whisper, “Will my mitochondria be singing the Hallelujah Chorus when they see what is coming down the digestive tract? Or … will they roll their eyes and think, ‘Seriously?! Is this the best you’ve got?’” Personifying these cells helps me consider their nutritional needs in a playful way, as if they were living. Oh, wait! They are! 

I could detail what this looks like for me today, but that’s not really my point. We were each gifted with a God-created body, and it is the home of the Holy Spirit. Those word pictures help me choose wisely some days. I do not get this right every day, but this journey of life is not about perfection or guilt. It is about understanding who God is and what He has given to us. 

I will never know what might have been different for me, but perhaps you will. I pray that your cells will be warrior-ready, filled with the nutrients they need, so that you can face whatever battle may come your way in the future. Think Cellular!

Tammy Schutt enjoyed serving with SIL International for many years. With Bible translation, literacy, education, development, linguistic research, and language tools being core contributions, her affection for their mission continues today even though the joy of retirement has begun. With more time, Tammy has developed some new hobbies. If you drop by her new home in Pennsylvania, don’t be surprised if she invites you to help remove 1970s wallpaper or perhaps build a new compost pile, all while enjoying coffee and conversation. Tammy and her husband, Dave, have two daughters, two sons-in-law, three grandchildren, and a beloved cat named Jeffery.