A Sugar-Free Lent:: A Challenge

Hello. My name is Heather and I have an addiction.

It’s not with alcohol. I’ve had a countable number of sips in my lifetime. Nor is it with drugs. I don’t like needles, swallowing pills, or anything that would make my nose feel funny.

My crutch? My substance of choice?

Sugar.

I prefer it when combined with some sort of cocoa derivative. But, sometimes I start getting the shakes and I’ll grab for the Twizzlers or Gummy Bears if they are all that’s available.

I’m a “good” Christian girl who’s just as much of an addict as the guy who sits at the bar each night to find his liquid courage, or the mom who still takes her pain pills, years after the injury, to numb a different sort of pain.

And, like them, I need to stop.

Sometimes I feel like I have my addiction controlled. I feel powerful. Yes! I said, “No” as the cookie plate passed by.

But then, other times, most often in secret, my addiction draws me in. It whispers that no one will know what we did. It coos softly, “You’ll feel so much better after you have just a little more. They won’t see how much you’ve eaten . . .”

And then comes shame. Yep. Shame never misses a chance to glom onto whatever addiction plagues me. He gets in your face and says, “You are such a loser. You have no self control. You are gross. No one does eats that much. You have serious issues.”

But, ironically, instead of convincing me out of my sin of over-eating, shame somehow finds a way to envelop me more, deeper into its grasp.

I now need a way to cope with what I’ve done. I’m sorrowful. I need comfort. I need more chocolate?

No, I need more Jesus.

But, I stray. I drift from the path. I settle for the quick candy “fix” instead of the meaningful ways he can heal my wounds–not just bandage them. I seek temporary numbness over his life-breathing words and rehabilitation.

Scripture has a solution for when we go rogue–when we desperately need something, sometimes something we can’t even name–it tells us what to do.

Fast and pray.

Many of us know that last part. Praying. That’s easy. “God, help me!” I breathe that sentiment with every handful of M&Ms I throw in my mouth.

My drug of choice.

My drug of choice.

But that first part, the “fasting” part. That’s not as familiar. That requires me to be active–to delete from my life something that may be standing in the way of my prayers or taking my focus off of Jesus, where it should be.

For me, that’s sugar.

Lent starts tomorrow. Today is called “Fat Tuesday” where Catholics binge on donuts and King Cake before they abstain from all that is delicious for the six weeks and some odd days before Easter.

(I’m not Catholic, but I share in this story how I started observing Lent decades ago when I worked with some Catholic friends.)

This year, I’m giving up sugar. I haven’t been binging in preparation for it. I just felt, today, as I prayed that God was saying to give it up. Let it go and see if I can clear it out of life and find some real peace.

So, it’s gone.

It won’t be easy. During the next six weeks I have a kids’ birthday party to plan–and red velvet cupcakes to be made at the birthday girl’s insistence. There will be no shortage of social functions to attend, sure to feature homemade baked goods or Valentine’s Day candy.

Hey, just checking out of Target will be a test. Am I the only one who hears the York Peppermint Patty call my name as I’m putting the forty-three items I found (plus the two items I came in for) onto the cart?

But, I’m going to do it. Prayerfully, I’m going to make it.

None of these for me next week!

None of these for me next week!

Do you want to come along?

Maybe there’s something else you should give up? Your scale? Your mirror? Your skinny jeans that don’t fit and have been hanging in your closet staring at you? Your morning Starbucks? Pringles? Instagram?

It doesn’t have to be sugar.

If you do . . .let’s connect on Facebook too. (It’s easier to have a conversation there and I’d love for us to be able to encourage each other on this Lenten-season journey.)

Not sure if “doing Lent” is for you? Then, I hope you’ll take a second and just say this prayer, right where you are, and see what happens. Maybe God wants Lent to be an incredible time of transformation for you, too.

Dear Heavenly Father – What am I craving more than you? Is there anything standing in the way of my relationship with you? Is there anything I am desiring more than your, right now, Jesus? Show me what that is and give me the courage and strength to live without it for the next six weeks. Help me replace it’s role in my life with more of you, your word and your presence.

In Jesus Name, Amen.

If you have plans for Lent . . .I hope you’ll share more about them in comments below!

 

 

 

 

 

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