Peanut Butter in the Bathtub
Sometimes I eat peanut butter and jelly in the bathtub. It is a habit that originated out of necessity: needing both to eat and shower in less than ten minutes. Choosing stinky or hungry really was no choice at all, so I decided to multitask. I switched from shower to bath and from scrambled eggs to PB & J. I actually tried scramble eggs once, but they kept falling off the fork . . . kind of ruined the moment for me . . . floating eggs I mean.
Now, even when I have ten hours, I still eat Peanut Butter in the bathtub; mounded between bread, sweetened with cherry and pomegranate preserves, savored as I brine. It’s a strange guilty pleasure. Really I am doing nothing wrong, just relaxing sore muscles and fueling an overworked body. Yet, I always emerge with a strange need to confess.
Maybe it’s the calories in the peanut butter. Maybe it is the moment of rest that might otherwise been used for laundry or dishes. Maybe it is because, for ten minutes, life is all about me. Maybe it is all three.
Ten minutes in the tub with a sandwich, and all my demons come to life. The distorted self-image that counts and measures every portion and ounce; an appetite longing to starve but never satisfied. The damaged worth that must do and be all things at all times; an impossible requirement that moves up when nearly reached. The pounding of Christian values demanding that I die to self and put others needs above my own; an often false humility that seeks the appearance to appease the critics.
Ten minutes in the tub and I am reeling, as though I have committed a heinous act . . . the root of all my moral dilemmas dug up by Peanut Butter and Mr. Bubbles. The calories can be justified by a run, and the laundry passed off as something my husband should have done. The Christian values are not wrestled down so easily.
I struggle with this idea that I am to die daily, to take up my cross if I want to follow God. The Bible describes it as an act of worship where I am the sacrifice. It is an abstract concept, one open to an interpretation laden with guilt. I want to be selfless, I want to “do more for God.” I also get hungry and tired. Sometimes I stink.
It reminds of when Lazarus died, and everybody was mourning. Jesus went to the tomb and told the mourners to roll away the stone. Lazarus’ dead body had been in there for days, so the crowd responded with; “but Lord, he stinketh” (old King James style). Jesus told them to do it anyhow, and it turned out Lazarus was alive. He came walking out (though we get no update on his odor).
The problem is, I focus too much on the death, and lose the life. I am to take up my cross and FOLLOW. I die so that I can truly LIVE. It means that the sacrifice is in the living, not the dying.
If I obsess about the death, I end up stinky. If I focus on all the things I am doing, all the things I am not doing, all the ways I am sacrificing; then I reek of resentment and self-righteousness. If I focus on the life, the daily opportunities to love, the daily blessings in which I experience love; then I truly omit the odor of Christ.
Sometimes I eat Peanut Butter and Jelly in the bathtub. I do it because I am hungry and I smell bad. I do it and feel guilty; as though God and everyone else expected more of me. In reality I think God would say: “come to me, you who are heavy laden (relax, have a bite to eat), take my yoke upon you and I will give you rest (I have stuff for you to do today, but it’s all a part of the plan so it won’t even feel like work) for my yoke is easy and my burden is light (we are going to do it together). I may never fully reconcile the guilt, but I am learning to focus on the living.
Did I mention that I floss in the shower?