Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. Proverbs 3:3
I often joke that brownies are my love language. When I was a kid, my mom would always have something hot from the oven waiting for us when we got home from school. To this day, the smell of brownies baking takes my heart back home, reminding me of safety and rest, comfort and love.
Growing up in south Louisiana in a predominately Catholic culture, I found myself increasingly isolated from my peers. We were evangelical Protestants, and my beliefs set me apart from those around me. School was challenging. I did not fit in, so coming home was a welcome relief. And somehow, along the way, my need for nurture and acceptance and comfort got connected with the food that was waiting for me when I got off the bus. Not surprisingly, one of my biggest adolescent struggles was being overweight.
Time went on. I got married, became a missionary, and had children. Whenever life got stressful or painful—anytime I felt sad, lonely, or rejected—I baked. Then, when our missionary career ended prematurely and all of my dreams were shattered, I found myself in a counselor’s office trying to sift and sort through my pain. She became my Nathan, pointing out the shame I was carrying about my weight and the self-sabotaging behavior of emotional eating that I felt powerless to overcome.
The truth was that I had been involved in an idolatrous relationship with food—in particular, sweet foods like brownies. When I needed comfort, I nurtured myself instead of seeking that comfort from God and others within the Body of Christ. I was isolated, self-reliant, and stuck. For the first time, I was able to acknowledge the truth of my sin, but that created another problem.
How did I accept the truth of this sin without condemning myself? I knew from experience that self-condemnation would only trigger a self-defeating cycle of eating for comfort only to feel more shame. On the other hand, how did I give myself grace without minimizing or justifying my sinful choices, enabling them to continue? How did I love myself but hate my sin?
One of my counselor’s favorite verses was Proverbs 3:3. She pointed out that when Father confronts our sin, Grace and Truth always make the visit together. While Truth is unyielding in His truthfulness, Love empties Himself, pouring out streams of grace filled with mercy and forgiveness. Together Grace and Truth create a safe environment for my soul to acknowledge the truth about my failures while continuing to feel loved and accepted in spite of them. Now that I am no longer fearful of losing love, I can focus my attention on growth and change.
Over the years Grace and Truth have been good friends, and the longer I have lived with them, the easier it has become to accept my humanity as a gift that keeps me connected to the One I was created for, the One who calls me daughter and friend. We all occasionally eat brownies together because God likes chocolate too. More importantly, though, we enjoy our relationship. The comfort and acceptance I need are bountifully supplied through my relationship with Him and His people, satisfying my deepest longings. (And the icing on the cake is that this satisfaction is calorie-free. Smile.)
How about you? How are you relating to yourself and to God when you sin? Make a commitment to develop your friendship with Grace and Truth. Find what you need in Him.