A zealous approach to the Bible is considered a good thing for a Christian. That kind of maturity is known as ‘solid food.’ The metaphor comes from the Apostle Paul. He chided the early church about milk, since they weren’t grasping the meat of the Gospel message.
Which is why I found it a little prophetic, or something, when my stress symptoms made solid foods, like meat, hard for me to eat. Literally. Going into fight or flight slows down your digestion. It’s gotten better but I still have a hard time digesting a large portion of meat in one sitting. Plus, for a time it was hard for me to chew solid foods. See, I had a chronically clenched jaw at night which was so painful that the muscle spasms went down into my neck and upper back. For a while I was limited to ‘soft foods’ and liquids.
In addition to the instruction to cut out hard foods, my doctor (and two therapists) urged me to quit putting hard-to-chew materials into my brain. My flesh was mirroring what was going on inwardly in my spirit.
At their suggestions, I made various lifestyle changes. I wrote about the novel reading changes here (if interested).
The novels helped me put aside the vigorous studying. But there were other changes too. For instance: I did zero evangelizing for a time. And I really stretched my faith by just being. Sitting around in rocking chairs trusting that God was going to restore me eventually. Trusting that He was accepting me just as I was–even nearly incapacitated with craven fears and raging stress levels.
It was strange and uncomfortable at first.
In time, I started to enjoy the softer things. Like going to the zoo on weekend trips to visit our grown children. Or taking several bubble baths. A day.
As a kid, my bath time was often in someone else’s old water already lukewarm and dirty. My toys were mostly hand me downs or ‘gifts’ from abusers intent on grooming me; as were most of my clothes. And I didn’t have a personalized stocking at Christmas time. At least not one like my older siblings. Theirs were large and had their names embroidered on them. Meanwhile I had a plain red slip of a thing at the tail end, lacking any identification. It was so small an orange could barely fit inside.
My BHH has tried to make up for some of what was missing in my childhood. Hence he indulges me with trips to the zoo. Buys me bubble bath and other gifts ‘just because’ and runs the tub near overflowing for me. Last year he bought me a Christmas stocking, with the initial of my first name embroidered on it. He filled it, several times before Christmas Day, with journals and note cards and candy and quirky buttons that made me laugh.
All that delving I had done prior to my changes, (delving into meaty faith subjects), had convinced me that Christmas had very little to do with Christ. I had grown wary of idolatry and I approached Christmas with restraint.
But when I saw that stocking with my initial on it–‘oh no, it’s pagan!’ wasn’t part of my thought process. Rather, I thought it was the sweetest gesture on earth. I realized that for the first time in my life, someone had taken time to buy me a personalized stocking.
I cried thankful tears. Tears of recognition and appreciation and a bit of regret as well. For nearly half my life I had had someone beside me to give me love, but I’d been dumping on him instead of appreciating him.
I was finally able to start receiving some of the love for which I was so very hungry. Love that had eluded me even as I was indulging in all the meat that I could, trying to fill that emptiness.
I had not received milk as a child. Metaphorically speaking. Oh, I was fed and grew to adulthood. Emotionally, though, I was starved. And so I started doing milk moment things, like those listed above, for myself. Others took note, and started doing them as well for me.
My heart still has the markings of an emotionally stunted little girl. It needs acts-of-nurturing, like the Apostle Paul gave to the early church, before it can mature into something harder to handle.
So I buy stuffed animals and put them on display around the house. I lolly-gagg on pinterest with pretty pictures of mopeds, trees, and beaches. I indulge with afternoons of reading or singing songs.
And I make myself warm milk. Literally. I found a recipe for something called golden milk, which has turmeric in it. It is super healthy but a bit of an acquired taste (unless you add a ton of honey!). Last fall I discovered a new warm milk recipe making the rounds on pinterest. I tried that one as well, making it my own with the addition of even more spices and switching the honey to maple syrup. When I first tasted it my heart was happy and I told myself to make it again…and add extra syrup please…
- 1-2 cups almond, coconut or regular milk
- 1 T blackstrap molasses (or less if it’s too strong for your taste)
- 2 t real maple syrup (or more to taste–I probably use about 3-4 teaspoons in a mug as I like it sweet!)
- Pinch of each: Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves, (or allspice, and add or remove whatever spices you like/dislike)
- Heat on the stove, or in the microwave, until warm. I’ve even made big batches at once to store in the fridge. (It’s also delicious cold).
This is a bit like sipping a gingersnap cookie from a mug. The perfect treat before bedtime–especially with autumn leaves falling around the porch, a fire blazing, a soft chair, and the understanding that the tougher things of life can wait until morning.