August 28, 2006

I suppose I should write about this. It’s not really a big deal to anyone who doesn’t live with me, but I like to write from the perspective of my own life and experience.

About a year ago, I began to feel a certain degree of “conviction” about the amount of sugar I consumed. That may sound a bit health ridiculous, but you must understand that I could polish off a large bag of candy in less than ½ an hour. I would have out of control sugar cravings three or four times a day.

I knew I had a problem. I define it as a problem, because when I would try to limit my sugar intake I couldn’t go longer than 8 hours without caving. There was one time I ate ¼ cup of white sugar with a spoon. I wanted something sweet. I wanted it now. I don’t generally respond well to delayed gratification.

What I also struggled with was extreme moodiness at That Time of The Month. Vicious lows and brittle and extreme highs. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I was Evil, but my husband was the target of some fairly harsh verbal exchanges.

He is a saint, by the way.

So, 1 ½ months ago, I decided to “fast” from refined sugar. I still consume small amounts of honey or maple syrup. I’ve discovered xylitol and I have used Splenda occasionally for about 2 years.

How does it effect my life?

OH MY GOSH! I had no idea. The roller coaster emotional joy ride has leveled considerably. The dreaded 28th day of hell didn’t happen. No one really wants to know about women’s issues, but I have to put it out there because I was truly out of control when my estrogen outweighed my common sense. There has been a night and day difference.

But besides the physical difference, there’s been a spiritual difference. See, when I use the term “conviction” I mean a literal “I believe G-d is requiring a change” type of conviction. For over a year I wrestled with the validity of “fasting from sugar”. It’s not extremely spiritual and no one else was doing it. Well, no one cool was doing it. I like sweets. I deserve them. Surely G-d wouldn’t ask me to give up something so inconsequential as mere sugar. I mean, in the light of G-d and eternity, who really cares about a bag of licorice. It’s not like I had a Royal Icing altar and a shrine to Martha Stewart in my kitchen… Not really.

So why was it so hard to let go? Was it my “right” to self-indulgence that conflicted with my high and lofty ideals of obedience? Was it the simplicity of the issue that seemed to make light of the “depth” of my faith? Perhaps I struggled with such a personal request. Only Someone who knew me intimately would know what such a step would cost. Someone who wasn’t fooled by the façade I so easily put up. Did I really want to believe that G-d was that personal?

Only a Friend sincerely concerned about my personal well being would ask such a thing. There is no starving child in Africa who would benefit from this small sacrifice. No lives were added to the Kingdom, no brilliant edifices for posterity built as a result of my grand and noble deed.

But isn’t that what obedience is really all about?

The personal relationship? The reality of a knowable and knowing G-d? Isn’t that what we preach when we speak of the intimate fellowship of the heart? Of G-d indwelling us?

And that is what changes us. The steps at a heart level. It’s the choice to turn the TV off when “that show” comes on. It’s the choice to avoid Girls Night Out because of the behavior of Church Girls Gone Wild. It’s saying no to the 2nd beer, the 2nd helping or the 2nd glance.

Because He knows you from the inside out, as it were, He will show you what small step you need to take to get closer to Him. These are the actions that position us closer. These issues unresolved are the white noise that muffles His voice.

In the light of G-d and eternity, it’s a candy bar. And it’s intimacy or lack thereof. All at the same time.