For as long as I can remember, sugar and I have had an unhealthy relationship that eventually became toxic. Candy, ice cream, cake, and really anything that was sweet would do. There’s a long and storied history of my addiction to sugar. I mean, desperate, crazy business. Baring my darkest Sugar Secrets to illustrate my point:
*There’s that time I was supposed to be selling candy bars for my softball team when I was in 5th grade and ended up eating almost all the candy. My dad was outraged when we owed like 18 bucks towards the case of 24. Sigh.
*There’s that time I opened the jar of mincemeat pie filling in the basement pantry and ate part of it because it was sweet. Then I closed the jar, slyly returning it to the shelf until my poor mother discovered it months later, all fuzzy and horrible.
*There’s that time I went to Friendly’s and got a banana split, devouring it on a side street before going home to my family. Yes, secret split eating in the streets.
*There’s that time I ate so many Christmas cookies that I felt guilty, so I decided to ride my bike (for exercise) to pick up Chinese food instead of driving. Then the tire went flat and I wiped out in the street.
*There’s that time I chased the Mr. Softee truck down the block in Hoboken, NJ and Mr. Softee isn’t even that good. And it was freezing cold, in March. But a twist cone and jimmies, even of sub-par quality, will make a desperate person hotfoot it.
*There’s that time my favorite bakery donated about 10 dozen donuts to an overnight church youth function I was chaperoning. By morning, I’d stuffed at least half a dozen of said donuts down my gullet.
*There’s the oft-repeated habit of raiding the Easter or Halloween candy before the holiday and having to go get more because I’d depleted the supply.
*And perhaps the most awful, there’s that time I over-indulged in sugar-free candy (to cut back on sugar) and my stomach felt like it had entered the 5th Circle of Hell. HELL! 5th CIRCLE!
Yes, confection…er…confession time folks. I’m a sugar junkie.
The first three weeks of January, I fasted sweets as part of a church-wide fast to seek God and focus on Him in the New Year. I actually did great. I didn’t cheat a single time. Of course this is because it was for Jesus, and I adore Him, so I did it. But what about me? Jesus loves ME, so why can’t I do it for myself?
After the three weeks, I returned to my old ways, pilfering Valentine’s Day candy from my children and eating Girl Scout cookies at my witching hour, 3:30 PM. It is not unusual for me to go all day eating virtuously and then kick it Cookie Monster Style with a box of Caramel deLites. Ugh.
I have been off the rails for some time. If I’m honest, since January 2016 to be exact. Yes, I said 2016. I’ve been avoiding the inevitable – the aggressive weight loss needed to help solve my back issues. You can read more about said back issues HERE.
Now I am FINALLY back to it, trying to really be purposeful about what I am eating and how much. The problem is, I just love to eat (one of my famous excuses). What I am realizing is that simply making small changes is what gets the job done.
I’ve taken to having my coffee with milk and a shake or two of cinnamon, rather than sugar. It tastes good and still gives me the coffee boost I need to function. Banana ice cream, made with frozen bananas, a bit of almond or soy milk, and a spoonful of peanut butter, fixes my craving for frozen confections. Dates taste like candy and I can eat a couple instead of chowing down on unmentionable amounts of candy.
This is not to say I will never have a bona fide sweet treat again, but certainly replacing with things like those above is an easy way to ease the sting that is a healthy lifestyle change. Small things add up.
In conjunction with this, the Lord has been dealing with my heart lately. He has shown me that a lack of self-control in my eating is really a lack of trust in and respect for Him. If my body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, how can I be so reckless with it? How can I effectively serve God and be the best representative of Jesus possible if I can’t gain control over my eating habits? I know this is God speaking because my more-than-ample flesh doesn’t want to acknowledge or admit it.
The fruits of the earth need to occupy more space on my plate and the Word of God needs to occupy more space in my head and heart.
I’ve come to learn that a lack of discipline in eating is closely correlated to a lack of spiritual discipline. Believe me, I wish it wasn’t true, but that doesn’t change it. When God reveals things to my heart that I don’t like and I don’t want to hear, those are usually the things that have the deepest roots and need the most upheaval in my life.
This week, I commit myself (for the long term) to healthier choices, not a diet. Diets are temporary. Lifestyle change is enduring. Yes this is cliche’, but it’s true. I’ve decided that sweet treats will be the exception, not the norm. The fruits of the earth need to occupy more space on my plate and the Word of God needs to occupy more space in my head and heart. That is, if I want to be the best possible steward of my body and representative of God.
When God reveals things to my heart that I don’t like and I don’t want to hear, those are usually the things that have the deepest roots and need the most upheaval in my life.
And regardless of whether I’m a size 18 or a size 8, God loves me and is pleased with me. This is NOT a “works based” approach to pleasing God. He already loves me as much as He ever will because He is good and abounds in love. My desire to change is not out of shame or condemnation. Rather, it is my desire to be a good steward of the amazing marvel of the human body that He has blessed me with. The bible says:
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
1 Corinthians 10:13
This means two things. Firstly, it means the excuse “I can’t help it” is false. I’m famous for the excuses “I just love to eat” and “I have a sweet tooth”. I can help it, with God’s help. It’s a willful act of disobedience to abuse my body with overindulgence. This leads into the second point, which is that God Himself is with us, a point of refuge when we are unable in our own strength to resist temptation and make good choices.
I want to keep my body in good working order for as long as possible, that I may serve Him as effectively as possible. I’ll undoubtedly slip, but I have to rise, refusing to stay in the valley of self-loathing and regret. For far too long, I’ve promised myself that this is the Absolute Last Time for “starting over” on a healthy journey after an extended period of bad choices. This week, I face my giant for the last time, with God by my side, stones and a sling in my hand.
Friends, I don’t know what your struggle is. Mine is overindulgence of sweets and the result of it making me overweight, which impacts my spiritual walk also. Whatever yours is, lay it bare before God and ask Him to convict you, instruct you, and walk with you on the journey to whatever changes you desire in your life. With Him, and by His power, You can face your giant, your craving, your struggle, emerging victorious at the end.
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