Earlier today, my adult students and I were dialoguing about word choices and the response that certain words and phrases trigger within us. My response of the day was guilty pleasure, triggered by two words: comfort food.
According to Wikipedia, the term “comfort food” was first used in 1977. It ‘refers to foods consumed to achieve some level of improved emotional status, whether to relieve negative psychological affect or to increase positive…Comfort food can be defined as food that brings some form or measure of comfort, sense of well-being, or easy satisfaction…Dishes may be warm and filling such as a dish made with a staple food, or basically pleasing such as sweets or desserts.’ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comfort_food, accessed 11/10/10).
I thought about my mom, and the many rich, warm foods she would prepare effortlessly. Of course, nothing felt guilty about it then; no one was talking about the long-term health effects of shortening (we didn’t “graduate” to vegetable oil until I was much older) or margarine. I didn’t hear about cholesterol levels until I was in college. Understanding trans fats and anti-oxidants came much later; truth be told, understanding is still on its way. Oh, for sweet ignorance that would have allowed me to enjoy this macaroni and cheese recipe without thinking about all the reasons I shouldn’t eat it! Two kinds of cheeses? Topped with potato chips and bacon? But it was soooooooo good. So good in fact, that we ate it before I could take a picture! Sorry.
Thank God the house was quiet enough to get in a workout—something else I wouldn’t have thought about in a different day and time.
Comfort food speaks to familiarity, to warmth, to security. To be ‘comfortable’ is synonymous with ‘relaxed,’ ‘happy,’ ‘easy,’ ‘calm,’ ‘at ease.’ Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we always felt this way? Yet, there is an inherent problem with being consistently comfortable: we don’t grow. I should restate that: we do grow—arrogant, that is. We grow, we become arrogant, thinking that we have it all figured out, and scratching our heads in confusion as to why everyone else can’t just do what we do. It all boils down to a pearl of wisdom that I wish was my own:
Comfort will never breed a comforter.
The next time you’re uncomfortable, praise God for the opportunity to grow in grace. We are anointed to walk through whereever the Lord is taking us. It’s a lesson that I’m learning. Think about it—maybe over some high fat, high sodium food? 🙂