A couple of weeks ago on an otherwise average Saturday afternoon, I was hiding in a kitchen corner, growling over a dark, moist brownie, protecting it like caught prey. The brownie was contraband. Forbidden fruit. Overcome with temptation, I did not bother to chew, and instead, clawed at the thing with my drool-soaked teeth, inhaling it through my mouth while crumbs spun to the floor. Iím still trying to figure out how the heck I got there, hunched in the shadows, gnashing into a piece of dessert, like an animal tearing into flesh.
I have always loved sugar. When I was a little girl, I spent every red of my allowance on candy. In my teens, during a six hour work shift at Trader Joeís, I could easily down four cans of soda and a one pound hunk of chocolate. Once, a co-worker and I gobbled up an entire fudge cake that was meant to serve ten. For the next hour, we floated through the sugar highs of our lives. Then we both crashed, sinking into the bathroom floor, shaking, laughing, crying, and trying to figure out how we could have been so stupid.
What I didnít know then, was that I had blood sugar and auto-immune issues that caused sugar to act like poison inside my body. I should have restrained my sugar intake, but never did. I grew into an adult with a habit of hiding bags of chocolates inside my clothes drawer, so I would always have something sweet to eat. I became notorious for piling whipped cream on top of everything, cakes, cookies, fruit, and even ice cold milk.
Chronic, menacing, internal infections began about ten years ago. Despite an abundance of tests and examinations, no one could figure out the cause of my problems. Not knowing what else to do, the good doctors simply fed me antibiotics. Then, about two years ago, I noticed that the most severe infections always followed peak sugar seasons, like fall holidays, Easter, and Girl Scout cookie sales. I began to see a connection between the amount of sugar consumed and the number of illnesses suffered.
To experiment, I went off sugar for ten months. The infections vanished. Then came Halloween, and all those precious bags of little candies. I started eating sugar again, slowly at first and then building up steam through the holiday season. I celebrated New Yearís Eve with cookies and cake, and a fever of one hundred and three with body aches that lasted several days. Doctors labeled it a sinus infection and prescribed antibiotics.
Against my better judgment, I continued eating sugar. Over the next five months I was wracked with five more brutal infections of varying types. The message was clear. Sugar kills my immune system and should be avoided. I stopped eating sugar, and once again, the infections disappeared. It sounds unconventional to say that sugar makes me sick, but Iím convinced it is true.
Perhaps God is trying to send me a message,
ďWoman, you cannot live on sugar highs alone.Ē
When my friends and family witness my refusal of dense cakes, hot fat cookies, and grandmaís homemade baklava, they think Iím strong. What they donít know is that my heart rips in two each time I pass on dessert. Iím dying inside each time I watch others lap up sweets as if they were swilling pure water from a mountain stream. Self-restraint is never easy. It kills me every time.
I think of Matthew 7:13-14, of the wide gate and how broad the road is to destruction, and how vividly that wide road resembles lack of restraint. I think of the narrow road and realize that the death I feel with every refrain is necessary if I want to fit through that narrow gate, on that narrow road that leads to life.
Dying to oneself is necessary to experience life, so I try to eat what is right and good. I want to fit through that little gate. Sometimes I am weak, however, and find myself hiding in the kitchen corner, gnashing into a dark, moist brownie, like a woman starving for sustenance.
Why canít I learn that sugar highs are temporary, and almost always leave me buckling with the pain of consequences? Why canít I remember that the food of the Father is sweet to the taste, everlasting, and provides all the sustenance I need?
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