An addict. That’s probably the most fitting word for me in describing my relationship with sugar. As a sugar addict, sugar has been at every celebration of my life. I’ve run to sugar for comfort more times than I can ever hope to count. Sugar has been a “reward” for surviving the week and an incentive for my kiddos in achieving their potty training victories.
Yet, I’ve read countless articles about how sugar feeds cancer cells, depletes your energy and causes a host of other problems. I’ve read because I’ve wanted something to so intellectually compel me to sever my deep-seeded addiction to sugar that it would cease to be a problem and I could actually eat it “in moderation” without compromising my heart.
But what I needed was not yet another intellectual argument. What I needed was freedom: spoken from the lips of my Savior directly to the dark places in my heart that dared to lean on anything aside from Him.
So, when God whispered to me (again), “Fast from sugar for 40 days”, I (finally) listened. I’d heard it before, but I wasn’t ready then to tear down altars and strongholds and high places in my heart. This time, I felt desperate to obey, desperate to no longer depend on this addictive thing and, instead, only depend on the One whose death paved the way for my abundant life.
Enter radical change: 40 days, no refined sugar or artificial sweeteners. Only natural sweeteners in small amounts (for me that has been stevia, honey and pure maple syrup). And my strength has been tested…and temptation abounds…and learning has flourished. (Did you know there’s sugar in bread, pasta sauce, most chips, dipping sauces and salad dressings, dried fruit and almost every pre-packaged anything?)
A very sweet friend encouraged me when I was about 8 or 9 days in, saying, “The cravings will go away soon…in just another week or so.” She spoke from her own sugar-fasting experience. I definitely appreciated her words that pushed me forward with hope. But, my experience has been different. I’m over two weeks beyond completing my official 40 days. I am still avoiding sugar, and my cravings for it are still there. (Um…addiction at its finest.) I would still love to pound down a vat of ice cream. But I haven’t.
The craving is still there. But my resolve has not wavered. Thank God! (quite literally!)
Along with cutting out sugar, God also prompted me to study the significant events in the Bible that coincide with the number “40”, which tends to be associated with times of preparation, testing and judgment. Because, ultimately, this isn’t about a physical issue. This is a spiritual issue because this is a matter of what I have elevated in my heart.
In my “40” study throughout the Bible, I’ve spent the most time camping out with the Israelites in the 40-year wilderness. They grumbled, they rebelled, they craved what they knew, they complained and distrusted. But God provided for their needs and guided them towards a land of promise and abundance. He rained down bread from heaven. They wondered what it was because it looked so different from their familiar things.
You see, it was those familiar things with which they identified. The comfort was found in the familiar. Even if the familiar involved enslavement.
But the Lord had more for them than what they knew. He didn’t want to bring slaves into a new land to continue in their slave-mindset. He wanted to bring His children to their new home to live freely and fully.
For me the sugar addict, sugar has equated to comfort, celebration and fun. But all of that has been a lie. When the comfort has passed and the last morsel has been tasted, guilt has followed. The exhilaration of the tasty moment leaves in its wake a very real crash, both physical and spiritual. The Lord asked me, “Who will be your source?” Who, or what, is my source? Is it a thing, or is it my God? Because whoever or whatever I go to as my source is what will define who I am.
For me, I will likely continue on in these 40-day stints until God tells me otherwise, until the addiction is broken and the cravings cease.
What about you…Do you struggle with an addiction? Is there something you run to, defend and justify? Ask God what He has to say about that. This is only a glimpse of my journey. But He has a journey towards a more abundant life for you. He longs to redefine you and be your only Source. And He is more than enough.