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Get thee hence, butterdream cookie!

By Michelle Lehnardt

Chocolates on the kitchen counter, heart shaped waffles with whip cream at breakfast, cookies in Young Women’s and a pink lollipop bouquet shyly placed in my hands from an especially sweet girl; ripe red strawberries dipped in Belgian chocolate, a heart shaped cake, pinky red m&ms— I’ve been off sugar for three weeks and ably resisted them all. And then we rolled out the thick buttery sugar cookies- it’s my own recipe perfected after years of practice- a soft, not too sweet dough baked until just done and frosted with generous swirls ofย  vanilla-almond buttercream frosting.

I selected a perfectly shaped and baked and frosted cookie, breaking off just a corner to inhale the sweet scent. Minutes later the entire cookie was gone.

*****

A few months ago, NPR ran a story (that I simply can’t locate) on temptation resistance. I found it fascinating. Temptation, the researchers asserted, is like a muscle. The more enticements that come my way, the more weary my resistance becomes. A temptation will grow more and more intense until a person gives in to enticement or removes themself from the situation. The butterdream cookie wouldn’t have been quite as alluring to me in the morning, but became almost irresistible after a long day of sugar seduction.

Researchers also learned that rest– a nap, a walk, a good book–alleviates temptation. Nearly everyone succumbs to weaknesses when they have a lot on their mind.

Now let’s face it, indulging in an outrageously delicious cookie isn’t a sin, but I have other impulses I need to control. My experience and the NPR story supports the concept that Christ withstood greater temptations than any mortal being—ย  He did not succumb. As a follower of Christ, I want to be more like Him.

Cigarettes, french fries, losing my temper– those have no appeal to me. But gossip, sugar, swearing– oh! I have to guard myself daily.

My husband finds it amusing that a prissy little girl like me(and I am prissy) can’t watch a movie with curse words without going around biting my tongue the next day. I’ve learned that I simply can’t read books or watch movies with foul language– it creeps into my mind and vocabulary. So I remove myself from the situation as often as possible.

Gossip is a similar siren song. I am far too apt to believe the latest dirt and pass it along. I’ve had to remove myself from certain friendships because of this tendency.

Recognizing our own weaknesses can be empowering; some frailties are harmless while others must be curtailed. I find that I have much greater compassion for other’s failings when I aware of my own infirmities. We each have our own little box of demons; mine might look harmless to you, but unchecked, they are lethal to my soul.

How do you resist temptation? What is easy for you that is hard for others and vice versa? Have you completely overcome a temptation? How can recognizing temptation guard us against sin?

About Michelle Lehnardt

(Blog Team) I'm the kind of mom who drives through mud puddles, throws pumpkins off the roof and lets the kids move the ping-pong table into the kitchen for the summer. Despite (or probably, because of) my immaturity, my five sons and one daughter are happy, thriving, funny people. I'll climb a mountain with you, jump into a freezing lake hand-in-hand or just sit with you while you cry. I believe the gospel of Jesus Christ will heal the earth. Founder of buildyourteenager.com, scenesfromthewild.net and rubygirl.org.

36 thoughts on “Get thee hence, butterdream cookie!”

  1. For me recognizing temptation so I could guard against sin took time. I had to get to know myself through the experiences of life, so I could know what tempts me. Even now that I know some of those triggers I don't do well when I'm overwhelmed. So I have to structure my life to be peaceful, even if it doesn't make sense to others. It takes some humility on my part (I'm oh, so humble ๐Ÿ˜‰ to say that others can accomplish X,Y,Z, and A,B,C on a given day while I can only accomplish X and B.

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  2. Giving into temptation works for me. Once I've eaten a whole batch of frosted sugar cookies, I can resist them for a long time. This technique does have a few disadvantages. Weight gain being one. It might also not be the best way to deal with sexual temptation.

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  3. You had me at Butter Dream. And then you lost me because that temptation took over my entire brain. lol!

    Actually, this is a wonderful post, and speaks volumes about why we need to shield ourselves from the ways of the world, immerse ourselves in righteousness, and take quiet moments to rejuvenate.

    I get a kick out of life when studies show what Christ has been telling us all along.

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  4. I'm pretty sure I'm one of the "weakest of all saints" for whom the Word of Wisdom was revealed because I'm convinced I'd be an alcoholic if I drank at all! So I apologize to all of you who could easily indulge in your nightly glass of wine with no damaging repercussions, but thank you for saving me from skid row! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  5. On a more serious note, Michelle, I think you're absolutely right that we all need to be able to recognize our own weaknesses and learn how to guard against those things that are temptations for us that might not be for others. And we need to respect the fact that what may be easy for us may be terribly difficult for others.

    For example, while this may seem silly to many, I've learned that I need to stay away from things like the Parade of Homes because it brings out in me a sort of covetousness and materialism that I know is damaging to me spiritually.

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  6. Yours don't seem silly at all. I need to refrain from sugar and white flour for a while so I can lose some weight. So what did I do? I watched Julie and Julia and got the fabulous idea to start a cupcake project with my daughters. I didn't think it would be an issue, but I'm not being super strong. We make one recipe each week and deliver to friends and neighbors. Then I blog about it. I should be simple, but man, hot out of the oven is hard to resist. Sometimes for me, it's that I need to be determined to stick to my goals and the decision to avoid the temptation is easier when it rears its head. Fatigue and stress don't help at all. This food thing will be a life-long battle for me, but I think that overcoming these temptations we have is part of the challenge while we're on earth. I need to pray for more strength to overcome! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  7. This is a post meant for me today. However, I'm finding the list of temptations overwhelming, and I'm giving in to them all in one giant landslide. On a good day, I can balance and juggle amazing amounts…but on a day like today, it ALL come crashing down…in comes the junk food and overspending as consolation.

    I need some ideas of things that I CAN do on a day like today. Anyone?

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  8. I know if I had eaten a nice, wholesome lunch than my empty stomach wouldn't now be craving butterdream cookies and french fries.

    Arrrrrr, Janell Hungry, Arrrrrrrrrrr.

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  9. I read this with an Oreo Cakester in my hand. It had never crossed my mind before that resistance to something as basic as sugar can make us more like Christ, but that idea really rings true to me. My mother, who has a disease similar to bone marrow cancer, read somewhere that cancer cells feed on sugar, so two years ago she cut out refined sugar cold turkey. When I expressed disbelief, she told me living by the Word of Wisdom had prepared her to discipline her body to this extreme. Now I just need to ask myself, "Would Jesus hit the snooze button yet again?"

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  10. I am not tempted at all by food, especially sugar. It does not hold any interest for me at all, and I don't get any satisfaction from it. I have to control my tongue, or it will bring me eternal damnation. I am a lawyer, and verbal dominance is drilled into our training. My other big one is swearing, it really does drive away the spirit, and I work all the time to control that so I don't drive myself away from the Savior.

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  11. I identify strongly with this post except the resistance to french fries.

    It depends on the temptation for me. Some things, such as chocolate, are easy for me to be moderate in. Caramel, however, I cannot keep in the house.

    Also, I have noticed that if I am exercising regularly, my temper fuse with my kids is longer. You would think that was a good enough incentive to get me out running at 7 a.m. Sadly, I need to work on it.

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  12. First, can we have your sugar cookie recipe, please?

    I like you, Course Correction. I make a batch of sugar cookies at Christmas, eat them all, and then I have no desire for another one until at least Valentine's Day!

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  13. I love you all. ๐Ÿ™‚ Sharlee– I thought the Parade of Homes was an excellent example.

    Yes, Melissa! That was the story! And I was going to use the chocolate cake example but I was afraid I'd get it wrong.

    And I'm laughing at everyone who wanted the recipe. I read the first paragraph to my hubby this morning and his first response was, "Can you make cookies today?" I'm an excellent baker, which is a bad talent for a girl with chubby genes. Here's the sugar cookie recipe, but I'll spare you my recipes for brownies, strawberry heart cake, blondies, orange muffins, German crumb cake…

    1 cup butter
    1 3/4 cups sugar
    2 eggs

    cream until fluffy

    1/3 cup milk
    1 teaspoon vanilla

    5 cups flour
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon baking powder

    you'll want to tweak the amounts of milk and flour for your climate and oven. Wrap and chill the dough for 2 hours then roll into a thick slab 3/8 to 1/2 inch. Bake at 400 until just the edges turn brown.

    frosting

    1 cup butter
    4-6 cups powdered sugar
    1/4-1/3 cup hot milk
    2 teaspoons vanilla
    1 teaspoon almond extract

    pipe onto cookies with a large star icing tip.

    Try to resist.

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  14. I like Veggietales' approach to temptation in "Larryboy and the Bad Apple". Everyone has their weakness and we need help to resist. "Less chocolate, more exercise." Oh, that is so me.

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  15. What I need is a timer that sits by my computer–and somehow reminds me to turn it on the minute I sit down. And then I need the will-power to walk away when the timer beeps . . .

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  16. My cookbook (of recipes I collect, not a book I bought) is at least 2/3, maybe 3/4 desserts and the rest divided between entrees, salads, veggies and breads. Sadly, my heart ascribes to the motto "life is uncertain; eat dessert first." I find with many food items though, that I do better having a little of what I really want in the house, otherwise I will go scrounging and eat a lot of what does not quite satisfy, which is worse on so many levels. I can't read certain blogs of people I know, because they are all about how fabulous their lives are, their homes are, their children are, their vacations are. And I get grumpy, really grumpy. Not to say I seek out people of lower economic means than me, but I am a far less covetous person now that our ward boundaries don't include so many country clubs and instead include a wider demographic strata.

    I have read in a couple of places the idea that willpower is a muscle that can be fatigued just like any other. And some days, no matter how much I tell myself not to eat my emotions, I am too fatigued on too many levels to avoid self-medicating in this fashion.

    I love the ideas expressed about structuring our choices and behaviors to avoid driving the Savior away and how our good choices build discipline for the next level. I find that emptiness–whether it's empty calories or empty activities (certain TV, books, internet etc) leaves me with a certain emptiness of Spirit and exhaustion that then makes it more difficult for me to seek out true nourishment. The discipline battle that I continually fight is to choose activities and nutrition that are replenishing and not merely filling.

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  17. So if my temptation is giving up on rational discussion with my 6 and 4 year old and just yelling instead, how do I remove it? Remove the children?????? Any takers?

    Just kidding, but it's been one of those days…

    But I did LOVE this post. And I have to say, in 2008 I lost 95 lbs and agree 100% about everything you said about temptation. I kept sugar and white flour out of the house and out of my body and I just got use to not having it… and then I would have some and I would totally binge.

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  18. Heidi–I hear you! There are days I can conquer the world, and days where the world has totally conquered me. On the days (like today) where I feel conquered I just hang on and survive until I can breathe again. I would love ideas about how to do better than hang on (and eat and/or "name your weakness here") on those most rotten days. Maybe sometimes progress just comes in having less of those days than you used to.

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  19. I'm so glad you posted the recipe, Michelle. My mouth is already watering.

    I've never been tempted on Word of Wisdom issues—that's always been an easy one for me. And, for some reason, I don't struggle with the urge to swear. But I have a hard time holding my tongue when I'm angry, so I definitely need to work on that one. And though I always thought I had willpower when it came to resisting treats, lately I've been craving sugar, so if there's candy in the house, I'm a goner. And if I make those cookies, I'll be a goner for sure.

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  20. I like sugar, but it's not a relationship that I struggle with. I'm not sure how that happened, but there it is. Occasionally I'll overindulge, but when I'm stressed, I tend to stop eating.

    What I struggle with is anger. I know it sounds weird that anger is a temptation, but I think it is, or at least the tendency to blow up is. I once heard a family therapist say that anger is addicting, and it was like a beam of light shot through me. I knew exactly what he was talking about. I always thought that blowing my stack was a release, but after hearing this therapist's fireside, I realize now that it's like I need a hit–an anger high. And anger feeds on itself, just like any other addiction. And I'm pretty sure that my husband wishes I was addicted to sugar.

    Everything we've talked about applies to anger addiction, too. Exercise helps a huge amount, as does proper amounts of sleep and eating normal and regular meals. (Like I said, when I'm stressed, I don't eat, which only compounds the problem.) Regular scripture study is also key.

    Right now, my husband is traveling so much that my regular exercise routine that kept some of the anger demons at bay has been interrupted, and it's been a struggle. I like this reminder that keeping my cool
    is about avoiding temptation. It's another productive way of dealing with it. It's also helpful to remember to look for signs that I'm getting to a point where I'm going to lose it, and take steps to prevent that before it happens. Steps like grabbing a sugar cookie ;).

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  21. I like your characterization of a "little box of demons." Sounds like Pandora's box almost. My personal demons don't involve food. Perhaps they should, but I believe good food is good for the soul, and I have a LOT of other things that need fixing first. So, maybe I'll get to that later. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Those cookies sound divine. Your story reminds me of the old joke: "Doctor, I hurt when I do this (insert self-destructive action here)!" The doctor replies, "well, stop doing it already."
    Nicole

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  22. Heather O. – I'm so glad you brought up anger as a temptation. I hadn't thought about it that way before, but boy do I crave a good angry tirade sometimes! And once I get started on a given day, it becomes much harder to control as the day goes on – as if I've had a *taste* of the energy that getting righteously angry gives me and I just want more. Great reminder, thank you.

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  23. Oh, and thank you for posting the recipe Michelle! I have been looking for a reliable sugar cookie recipe for ages, and yours sounds like it has enough difference to it to be just what I've been looking for. Sounds yummy.

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  24. Those cookies sound and look delish! Once I work out what powdered sugar is I think I'll make them too.

    My biggest temptations are related: I'm always tempted to read one more chapter, and always tempted to stay up way too late as a result. I always reap the consequences too, so it's a lesson that I'm learning on repeat.

    One temptation that doesn't faze me – I can't gossip. I think I'm missing a fundamental gene for communication dispersion. I can teach people, explain things, discuss issues for hours, but am totally out of the loop of knowing about people, and even once I'm told I never think of passing it on, the idea never enters my head.

    Of course, I discuss people and their behaviour for ages when I have my most trusted girls around me, but even then we only talk of those people and situations that involve us. Usually while eating really good food. Friends plus dessert = a huge temptation that I very rarely resist!

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  25. I heard a talk recently that described "carnal security" as feeling comfortable and secure when in worldly things such as a house, car, clothing, etc. I feel very guilty here. I do get a lot of security out of these worldly things. Not fancy things, just things. I guess I ascribe it to growing up poor and doing without a lot of the time. But that is my weakness.

    That and sugar. I'm so jealous of Laurie (above) who is not tempted at all by food. Is that possible? It's been a huge temptation for me my whole life!

    Great post. Thanks for the recipe. I will be trying it soon.

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  26. This article reminds me of a quote by C.S. Lewis:

    "No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness โ€” they have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means โ€” the only complete realist."

    I've thought about this very topic over the years and, as your article points out, as we resist temptations that come our way we are made stronger and become more Christlike. Temptation is not the problem- it's giving in that is the problem.

    My biggest temptation is food in general. I'm working on not liking it so much!

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  27. Michelle, I feel as if I were reading from my own journal reading your thoughts on this subject! Especially along the lines of sugar… it just might be my greatest vice… ๐Ÿ™‚

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