Remember the nursery rhyme about the girl with the curl? “When she was good, she was very, very good. But when she was naughty, she was HORRIBLE.” That’s me, in the area of sweets. Mostly I behave well. But when I don’t, I really don’t. And lately, I haven’t.
A few Fridays ago, I sat at my desk to write. Hours later, feeling weak, I wandered over to the pantry. Yanked out the first thing I saw. A long, almost-full box of thin, square, orange-filled dark chocolates.
At afternoon’s end, the chocolate box sat nearly empty. I sat nauseated, shaky, thoroughly disgusted with myself. Sensing keenly God’s frown. I had, for some time, treated his property — my body — poorly.
“Forgive me, Lord, I know I must not be horrible any longer,” I prayed, and tossed the one remaining chocolate in the trash.
One week earlier I’d complained about my high sugar consumption to a friend, confessing my lack of incentive to change. To my surprise, she admitted that she also struggled with a passion for sugar. “Every so often,” she said, “I go on a ten-day sugar fast. It helps me get my balance again.”
I’d kicked sugar before, too — for more than a year, about a decade ago. I felt so healthy I told myself I’d never want or need sugar again. I’d lost the craving forever, it seemed. But a few major life crises later, I’d found it again: that comforting taste that stays constant when everything else changes.
No sugar had become a little sugar, and a little more sugar. Then a lot, and finally a full-blown, “oh-who-cares-we’ve-all-gotta-die-of-something-so-stuff-it-in,” attitude. That’s why, on the Friday I mentioned, eating chocolates felt as natural (and far easier) than pressing pause on my thoughts to peel carrots, make a salad or open a can of beans.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor,” Ecclesiasties 4: 9,10 reads. “If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”
I needed someone to help me up. “I’m ready to start my ten days,” I told my friend that Friday evening.
“I’ll do it with you,” she responded graciously. When I later mentioned my intention on Facebook, several friends who wanted to give sugar the boot joined us.
I don’t know about the others, but ten days later, I have more energy. Food tastes better. My thoughts arrive more clearly. I’m rarely drowsy in mid-afternoon. My sweet tooth has faded. Sweet balance, like long-awaited spring, is reviving my body and spirit.
Too much sugar feels like a safe, moral addiction. It’s neither. It robs us of health and years of serving others and God. We all fall down, but the only true failure is refusing to get up. With a little help from my friends, and God’s outstretched hand, I’m getting up — again.
You can too. Believe it.