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No Sugar Added

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Hi my name is Dawn and I am addicted to sugar.

Now you might think that this is just some way for me to emphasize to you that I really enjoy sweets, that I am trying to impress upon you just how much I love ice cream, that if pressed I would say that I’m not really an addict.  That the word addict is reserved by those with drug and alcohol problems.  While I agree that those are some serious addictions and yes you are right in assuming that I have not fought that battle. Although I have seen those close to me taken in and devoured by that black hole, this blog post isn’t about the evils of drug and drink. I am no expert in that field, so I will not preach to it.

This is the story about me, my very real addiction to sugar and my Lenten journey.  I desired for several years now to find more meaning, more connection in my experience with Lent. I wanted it to mean more than just giving up something for 40 days. I wanted a challenge. I wanted to use this time to find myself closer to Jesus, I wanted to make this time more meaningful.  So I prayed.  I prayed to God to help find something that I could shoulder, that would cause sacrifice in my life, I needed that. I needed to find something that would cause me to commit more than just a passing thought throughout the upcoming weeks. So I prayed.

The answer wold come in one of two ways: Dairy or Sugar. Sending a text off to my Sister @ Heart Carrie, I asked her opinion, she agreed, sugar is was. Gulp.

When I say that I am addicted to sugar, let me give you a glimpse into my sugar addiction. While you might get a chuckle out of this, I assure you it is no joke.  I crave something sweet after I eat, ALWAYS and immediately. As soon as the last bite is gone from my dinner/lunch, I am on the prowl for a bit of chocolate, or cake or candy, anything with sugar.  I would walk the floors in my kitchen searching for something…I can’t just let an hour pass and the craving will wain, no way….an hour after dinner, two hours…I was still craving. It didn’t matter if I was stuffed to the gills full. It didn’t matter how much I ate for dinner, the capacity of my stomach wasn’t the issue, I wanted something sweet, I HAD to have it.  I know this about me, so I make sure that I don’t buy any of the sort. I have moments of strength at the store where I’ll pass over something that I’d usually buy…and danngit I am so proud of myself, mental high-fives all around.  That usually falls apart in several different ways. In just the same way I have a moment of strength at the store, I’ll make up for it in my moments of weaknesses…..that and the husband. This man, God love him, and yes I do too, will bring this stuff in the house and he KNOWS I have no will power against it….Salted Caramel ANYTHING is enough to make me drool….I can be bought and sold with brownies and don’t get me started on cheesecake.

So lets say I’ve been strong lately, the hubs hasn’t been allowed at the store alone, so there’s nothing handy in the house to eat that is dessert-esque.  Think that’d stop me? Nope. I’ll get whatever ingredients I have in the house and make something….even if it’s cookie dough missing half the ingredients…..or dry cake mix (don’t judge) maybe I’d mix it with water, maybe I wouldn’t. I’d hide the chocolate in the freezer (old staple I know) or find the husbands stash…find the bag of chocolate chips that I’d saved for just such emergency…or (hanging my head in shame) I’d get the candy I hid back from the kids…their candy from whatever the last holiday was. I mean, you know I was saving them from it, they didn’t need it in their little bodies, right?….RIGHT???   In the interest of full disclosure, I know it wasn’t for their benefit that I hid their candy and ate it, you and I both know that. I wanted it and I justified it in any way needed to make it ok.

You look on the inside of the drivers door of my car and you’d find a candy wrapper….passenger side door of the van…. empty chocolate bar wrapper. Bottom of my purse, desk drawer, any junk drawer in the house…tip top and back to the left of the cupboard by the stove, top shelf of the freezer, hidden in the pantry….all of my favorite hiding places. Add to this scenario, the fact that I LOVE to bake….a lot. Even in the height of self denial, those few days or weeks when I am strong enough to resist temptation, I’ll bake up something, anything, just to test myself. To see if I give into temptation…sometimes I’d be strong…most of the time I’d fail. Not immediately though. I wouldn’t lick the bowl, or eat one out of the oven or even eat one when I’d take the treats to whatever mtg I was going to, or work…where ever the destination. I’d fail when no one was looking. If there was one left…well I don’t want to throw it away do I? I mean that’s wasteful…in the car on my way home…there’s only a few left. I can treat myself can’t I?  And just like that I’d be overdosing in sweet treats and back on the sugar train.

Ugh, something had to change. If I can’t do this alone (OBVIOUSLY) …then who else but the big Guy upstairs. With Him by my side, I know I can get through this. This is a win-win right…I want to be closer to Jesus, I want to have more meaning in Lent and I need to break this grip that sugar has on me. The terms of my self sacrifice was pretty straight forward: No sugar unless it was naturally occurring, such as in fresh fruit and honey and no food that contained sugar unless it was naturally occurring (which isn’t much these days). Now while I was not going to use ignorance as a ‘get out of Lent free card’, I wasn’t going to analysis every minute ingredient in all the foods I ate for trace amounts of sugar. (*side note: seriously start looking at the ingredients…you will be SHOCKED at what you’re actually eating and that’s probably not a good thing) I know what contains sugar and what doesn’t, for the purpose of this journey.

Ash Wednesday. The day is upon us and there’s no turning back. I’ve committed to this.  Time for me to come face to face with one of my biggest challenges. I load up my shopping cart with all sorts of fruits  and some organic (from USA only honey….I got me a local guy once his bees start producing…but this’ll do for now). Day one and I know I’m gonna need me some Jesus. Oh man it’s killer to see others in my family happily indulging in this treat or that…the kids eating fudgecicles, the husband inches away  happily feeding his face ice cream, or chocolate, or hell,  both.  I really couldn’t stand them, I mean I got angry. How rude is that of them to sit there and eat that when they know how hard this is for me? Why can’t they just suffer with me?? Then I turned in to a martyr…smugly I thought “why can’t they try and be like me, I’m trying to better myself, learning self sacrifice and look at them, gorging themselves enjoying every gluttonous bite”  (Que Jesus).  Deep breath Dawn…one more….and again. Remember why you took this on, remember your purpose in this. Think how Jesus was tempted and how He would be to those who would taunt and mock Him.  I would find peace once again in my decision and the twinge of desire for the sweet would lessen.  Jesus was taking the place of my object of desire…as well He should.

Through out the weeks I found myself tested, as I knew I would be. I had made cookies for the office (for no reason…just did). They were sitting on the cookie tray, fresh from the oven, the sweet smell of fresh, warm, baked cookies wafting through the air, a soft beckoning in the wind bringing me closer and closer to the pot of gold at the end of the delicious rainbow…and before I know it, I crossed the kitchen floor. (Oh Jesus…I’mma need ya again)….I could feel the devil that is my desire for sweets talking to me…pouring those excuses out like syrup over a hot stack; “really just one, you can’t be expected to be perfect”..”I mean, Jesus, this guy..sure, He’s perfect. But He’s Jesus, you’re just human, you’re full of failures and Jesus knows this, He doesn’t expect you to be like Him. He knows you’re going to fail and He says He’s gonna love you anyway, right….”  “So, come on, just one.”  I almost believed him. I was two steps away from picking up a cookie……then I stopped.

You’re right you nasty devil, you’re right with everything you say. But you know what, I want to be more like my Jesus and I know that it’s just one cookie and I know that Jesus will love me even if I eat that cookie. I have broken no commandment here, however I have made a covenant with Jesus and I want Jesus to look upon me in favor and that is more delicious than any cookie can ever be.  I suppose it was at that point I knew I was going to be ok. No it wasn’t an easy road, however it was easier as the days and weeks went by.

In all honesty, I was not perfect. I did fail, I did falter and I did cave. Lent is over (officially) on Easter Sunday…and Saturday night, the last night of Lent, I fell and I fell hard….I ate chocolate. Well to be truthful I finished off the last of the Talenti Salted Caramel Gelato (I swear angels make this…course it could be the work of the devil..who knows). I gotta say…as amazing as this stuff is, like SINfully amazing….it really didn’t taste that good, I’m serious. That’s disturbing and very comforting at the same time.

Today, Easter Sunday…all bets are off…and I’ve been consuming sweets with no regard for what they are or why. I’m not even hungry. I am sure today I am doing it to punish myself, to see if I can undermined my success. (the reasons why are a bit deeper than I want to go this blog-around). My darling husband bought a box of (sugar free) chocolates and I baked a lemon cheesecake. There are of course leftovers for me for the rest of the week….(God help me). The sweets that I did eat today, just like the salted caramel gelato,  didn’t even taste that good.

So did I really win?

Did I really get from Lent what I was really seeking?  I have to say, yes I did. My goal was to bring Jesus into my life more and to kick the sugar habit. Time will tell if I have that unrelenting after meal craving and if  fresh fruit will fill the void where high fructose once resided. I do feel more confident in the choices that I will be making.  While I won’t be giving up the life I know and becoming a nun, I did put the focus on Jesus. When things became difficult, when I was faced with a choice, I purposely focused on Jesus. I made Him a priority.  I know that I can call on Jesus and while He’s not going to smack the cupcake out of my hand, He will reassure me that I don’t need to eat it and I am sweet enough as it is, No Sugar Added.