On Saturday night, the cold that knocked Jenny and Jack out of action found its way to me. I was in bed a majority of the day both Sunday and Monday, killing forests full of trees with my tissue usage. Some people lose their appetites when they’re sick. I’m the opposite. I eat more and I eat many things I shouldn’t.
The reason why is as plain as the inflamed nose on my face but this time around it really hit me like it hadn’t before. In illness I seek comfort and nothing has comforted me more in my 42 years on earth than food. That’s right…nothing. Not the love of a good woman, not the adoration from my son, and not the knowledge that Jesus died on the cross to wipe away all of my sins and give me everlasting life.
The seeking of comfort through food in my lowest moments is a pattern I’ve repeated my entire adult life and even as far back as adolescence. When I’ve been lonely, I’ve comforted myself with food. When I’ve been sad, I’ve comforted myself with food. When I’ve been angry, I’ve comforted myself with food. When I’ve felt lost, I’ve comforted myself with food.
The problem is food is such a poor way of comforting myself. The anticipation of indulgence is most often greater than the indulgence itself. The idea of a donut sitting on the baker’s shelf is far greater than the actual taste of the donut, in my life anyway. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve eaten something in order to bring comfort and found myself regretting it.
“It wasn’t worth it.”
“It wasn’t that good.”
“It was gone too quick.”
“Did I even taste it?”
Other Sources of Comfort
If not food then what can bring comfort when we’re in a low state of mind and facing any number of negative emotions? Relationships can bring us comfort. Just being in the same room with the people we love most can have a stabilizing effect. We can draw strength from those we count on for support and use their presence, their words and their affection to lift us up.
There is one problem, though. Relationships with family and friends can lift us up but they can, just as easily, be the reason we seek comfort through counterfeit means. Relationships are full of ups and downs. The love may always be there but the like is sometimes fleeting. If there are times when we cannot count on our closest personal relationships to bring comfort, what can we count on?
There is only one source of comfort that can always be relied upon, no matter the circumstance, the time of day or the weather. That source is our relationship with our loving God. No matter what emotions we face – be it anger, pain, sorrow, loneliness or bitterness – we can always call upon the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with peace. Our God is always there, His love never fails. His burning desire to draw closer to us can never be extinguished. He is all we need when comfort is what we seek.
The lesson I’ve learned from this recent bout of sickness?
When I yearn for comfort and want to treat myself so I can forget how sick I feel I must pray, read scripture, rest in the Lord and let him do his work. Instead of feeding my body that which it doesn’t need, I will feed my soul what it so desperately needs every single day.