Finding comfort beyond ‘comfort food’

Today’s contributor was freed from a binge-eating habit and regained a normal weight as a void in her life was filled by a clearer sense of God’s love.

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Ten tablespoons lined the bottom of my kitchen sink. As a young mother and doctoral student, I had developed the habit of turning to ice cream to comfort me in times of stress (which were numerous). Every time I felt anxious, fearful, or angry, I would reach for a tablespoon and have another bite of the delectable confection.

One evening as my husband and I looked at pictures of our young daughter’s birthday party, my husband commented that I had become quite overweight. Wow, that hurt! I knew his intentions were loving, but my first reaction was anger and resentment (more ice cream, please!). As I looked more closely at the picture, though, I could see that he was right.

I realized that the real culprit was anxiety, not ice cream. Merely controlling my intake of food wasn’t enough. I needed to get to the root of the problem. I did want to change my eating habits, but more important, I worked to change the kind of thinking that led to the overeating.

I found one idea particularly helpful and taped it by the phone on my wall: “Happiness consists in being and in doing good; only what God gives, and what we give ourselves and others through His tenure, confers happiness: conscious worth satisfies the hungry heart, and nothing else can.”

This statement, which Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy wrote at the beginning of the 20th century (“Message to The Mother Church for 1902,” p. 17), reminded me of God’s great love for His children. Christian Science explains that God, divine Love, created each of us in His spiritual likeness. As God’s expression we are valuable and competent, able to really feel, know, and act in a manner consistent with our innate worth.

Praying with these ideas helped me feel more genuine love for myself. One result of this was that I became more kind and patient with myself and others. And as I recognized and expressed more of my value as God’s beloved daughter, I developed confidence in my ability to experience God’s peace, joy, and balance in my life.

I found that when I felt nervous or upset, pausing to feel God’s great love stilled the storm of swirling emotions. Instead of reaching for a spoon, I began to reach out to God, Love, the source of our being and the reason for our existence. When I felt stymied, I would think, “God, I don’t know what to do, but You do. Show me.” My seeking thought was receptive to the loving inspiration God sent in answer to my prayers.

With this change in my thinking, I was able to lose the weight. And I’ve continued to turn to God, our Father-Mother, rather than to ice cream or any other “comfort food” when I feel stressed. This has brought healing and solutions many times.

When it seems there is a void in our lives, gaining a clearer sense of our relation to infinite Love helps us realize that God has already filled us from within with His comforting, healing peace.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

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