Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

I have this memory...
My parents had gone away to Oklahoma for a long weekend spiritual retreat.  My father's favorite minister of the Gospel (I cannot for the life of me remember his name) was scheduled to speak, and he was excited to listen.  We were living in Louisiana at the time and had just endured the split of our little church and the birth of another.  I was left in the trusted hands of good friends from the church family that I adored.  But I have always loved home and missed it when I wasn't there.  One of the afternoons of my parents' absence, my guardian and her daughter retrieved me from school, and we headed to the church for some kind of meeting.  We stopped in at the grocery store located in the same large shopping center as our church.  I purchased a teen magazine, probably Tiger Beat or Bop, and a king size pack of Reese's peanut butter cups.  We went to the church, and I sat down at a table to do my homework.  I also ate every single peanut butter cup in the pack.  When my guardian for the weekend looked down and saw all the candy gone, she asked, "Did you eat all of those?"  I was so ashamed, though I am certain that was not her intention, and my chubby little cheeks probably turned every shade between pink and red.  At the tender age of twelve, I was already turning to food to comfort me without any conscious knowledge of it.

I've had that memory on my mind for the past several weeks as I've been thinking about my real relationship with food.  Not about my efforts to control it, but how I really feel about food and how I use it.  Food filled this little awkward place in my soul during some uncomfortable years, and I am just now realizing it.  Those early days of comforting myself with peanut butter cups and sweet-tarts and other candies have evolved into habits of the mouth now.  All those same emotions ~ insecurity, loneliness, fear, inadequacy ~ that I had at twelve are full grown now.  And, at 35, I am trying to evaluate them and put them in their place.

Here's what I am realizing; God wants to fill every single space inside me.  He wants me to look to Him, nothing else, for comfort and filling.

Consider this passage from one of my favorite books in the Word:
Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!  Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.  Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?  Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.  Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.  I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David... Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him when he is near.  Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.  Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.  {Isaiah 55:1-3,6-7}

And yet another:
Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life.  He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." {John 6:35}

Funny how we see food and drink as key symbols throughout the Bible.  My incredibly uneducated opinion as to why is that it's the one thing that unifies humanity; hunger and thirst are common among all men and women from any given country, race, or creed throughout time.  We all know what a dry tongue and growling belly feel like.  And God uses this analogy to explain our soul's need for Him.  Lonely?  Turn to God.  Anxious?  Call out to Jesus.  Empty?  Turn to His Word.  Frustrated?  Take a moment to consider His patience with you.  Angry?  Pray.

Want to eat a king size sleeve of Reese's peanut butter cups?
Think a cocktail is the only thing that can calm your nerves?
Feeling insecure?  Lonely?  Disappointed?  Let down?

Those last three lines are my personal questions.  Deeply personal.  These are the areas in my life where I need to turn to God instead of a physical solution to an emotion.  And the two passages above tell me where to go... the Lord.  Only God can fill any void, any hole, any weak spot in my soul.  Not chocolate or Cheezits, not an evening cocktail, not a new pair of shoes or new tube of lipstick.  Me trying to find a physical way to solve emotional problems is never going to work.  I can only soothe my soul with spiritual things.  

And one final thought, which is a key thought in the first chapter of this amazing book I am reading, Made to Crave:
"Everything is permissible" - but not everything is beneficial.  "Everything is permissible" - but not everything is constructive. {1 Corinthians 10:23}

See, I don't like to be told what to do.  Who does, right?  Don't put me in a box and tell me I can't have what I want.  So to hear that everything is permissible with God is like music to my stubborn ears.  BUT... there are so many times when, if I stop to ask myself if the choices I make are beneficial or constructive (to me and everyone else around me), I may have to alter my decisions.  If I look a little further down the page from that verse, I see Paul state things a little more precisely.  "So whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." (10:31)

Whatever I do.  Whether it's eating or drinking or talking on the phone or shopping at Walmart or taking care of my family.  Every thing I do should glorify the One who made me.  Ouch.

Lord... I thank you for this intricate and miraculous body you have created for me, and for the spiritual side of me that is forever linked to you.  Help me to make better choices so that I can better serve and honor you in my life.  In your Holy Name, Amen.

1 comment:

carrie said...

This is a really good book! I, like you, turn to food to fill voids. I am a stress eater. Unfortunately, with 3 kids I am stressed quite often. I have even said, "That was a rough day. I deserve_________." The blank could be filled with numerous things. I am looking forward to God being the filler not junk! We can do this!