When I was a little girl, I would eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches all the time. They were my absolute favorite meal in the whole wide world. Part of why I loved them was because of how my mom prepared them: she would always carve a little heart in the peanut butter before adding the jelly. Food of Love!
I knew that heart was there whether I watched her make my sandwich or not. I could taste it. It was made with love.
As I grew old enough to make my own pb & j’s, I continued the loving tradition: spread the peanut butter, make a heart, add the jelly, SQUISH!
Even as a teenager, when I craved the comfort of my old favorite, I would draw a little heart and feel better about myself. I was loved.
I remember the first time I made a sandwich without a heart. I was 21 years old, in my first apartment and my roommate came into the kitchen as I was preparing my late night study snack. He watched as I spread the peanut butter and as I was about to carve out a little heart from the creamy spread, I hesitated and decided it was a childish habit. I simply dropped the jelly on top of the peanut butter and topped it off with another slice of bread. I ate it a little sadly, thinking it didn’t taste quite right.
Fast forward to a few years later, when I was making my first peanut butter and jelly sandwich on gluten free bread. I was anxious, because I knew the bread would be so different from what I was used to. I had been diagnosed with Celiac disease and had to cut out wheat in all its forms to heal my body. As much as I was tired of being sick, I didn’t want to miss out on my favorite foods.
I spread the peanut butter, telling my husband how sad I was about how it wouldn’t be the same as I remembered. With a rush of emotion, I spilled out all about how much I missed the way my mom would draw a heart whenever she made it for me. I slid down against the cabinet, crying. He sat down next to me, with my half made sandwich, and said, “Go on, draw your heart.”
The Food of Love ….how simple. A tiny act managed to turn my day around.
In the years between those two sandwiches, I had struggled with depression, feeling lost, alone, and, most of all, unloved. Now, I’m sure that not drawing a heart in my peanut butter was a symptom of feeling unloved and not the other way around, however that simple act was able to remind me that I was in fact loved. By the man sitting beside me, by myself, and my amazing Creator. He did after all make the peanuts.
As I made myself a sandwich this week, I made a pledge to myself: I will ALWAYS draw that heart in my peanut butter, because I AM LOVED.
Whether I feel it or not.