Nuts. It may be a word you’d use to describe me and most days, I’d probably agree with you. Some days I’m a tough nut to crack. Even I can’t figure out why I do the things I do or think the things I think.
But lately nuts have taken on a new significance in my life. I know, I know, I’ve always been surrounded by nuts and you may think you’re one of them. But seriously, due to some less than satisfactory medical reports that both Papa and I have recently received, apparently we need to change our ways and nuts may help.
Nuts! When the report is less than acceptable, it’s time to re-think the diet. From all the information I can glean, eating nuts is a good change to start with. According to an article I read from the Mayo Clinic, most nuts contain some heart-healthy substances and another great way to get more fiber into your diet.
I’m kind of finicky about nuts though. There are certain nuts that I’m just not that crazy about eating and I don’t care for nuts in my food. I’ve never liked nuts in dessert – none in ice cream, brownies, or cookies and I don’t like pecan pie. We don’t eat a lot of desserts anyway with the exception of Papa’s addiction to ice cream, but that’s one of the changes that will need to be made.
I can tolerate a few nuts on a green salad, so that’s a plus. But I’d rather just eat nuts plain. By themselves. Just nuts. So we’ve started stocking our pantry shelf with some of the heart-healthier nuts like walnuts, pistachios, and almonds. That way we can just grab a small handful when we get the urge to snack.
Just yesterday afternoon, I grabbed a few pistachios. And that set my mind in motion.
Unlike me, a pistachio is not a hard nut to crack. Most of the time, they’re already partially cracked open when you take them out of the bag. Eating pistachios is simple. Crack open the shell, peel off the skin if you like, and get to the good stuff.
Nuts are kind of like us humans. I know, here’s where my nutty thinking comes in, but bear with me here. We all have a shell just like nuts do. Some of us have really hard shells that are difficult to penetrate. Often it’s because we want to protect ourselves, keep people and the emotional roller coaster ride that comes with them at a distance so we don’t get hurt or fall out of the coaster car.
Once you’re able to break through the shell barrier of a nut, you often find skin covering the nut meat. When it comes to skin for us humans, some of us are thick-skinned and it takes a lot to hurt our feelings or upset us. But some of us surely aren’t; we’re easily bruised and battered by words and actions because our thin skin just doesn’t protect us the way it should.
Inside the skin, the tasty nut resides. When you peel away that skin, the nut is totally revealed. You might say it’s the heart of the nut. And isn’t that like us humans as well? When you get to the heart, the true self is revealed. The heart is who we truly are.
What comes from our heart speaks volumes. It can be as tasty and good as this pistachio or rotten to the core. It disappoints me to crack open a nut’s shell, peel off its skin, and find a decaying nut meat. And it disappoints us to meet someone like that as well. The shell may look beautiful and inviting, the skin may be lovely, but if the heart is ugly, the taste is horrible.
So this is what I’ve learned in my middle age and the nuts I’ve added to my diet have helped me figure that out. I need to stop worrying about my shell and my skin and concentrate on my heart. Just as the pistachio may be good for my physical heart, I need to partake of something that’s beneficial for my spiritual heart as well.
For me, that’s meditating on God’s Word. It’s my compass for life; it’s the way to a sound heart and soul. And it reminds me to focus on others, not myself. I need to stop worrying about the appearance of my shell and skin and concentrate on the soundness of my heart.
When people see me, what do they see in my heart? A heart filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? If not, I’ve got to change my ways and shed some shells.
“Perhaps middle-age is, or should be, a period of shedding shells; the shell of ambition, the shell of material accumulations and possessions, the shell of the ego.” ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh (American writer and aviation pioneer, 1906-2001)