Driving along a winding mountain road somewhere in western Colorado in the stillness of the dark night, I silently cried out to the Lord while careful not to wake my sleeping husband who had dozed off in the passenger seat. It was during this lonely drive, the final leg of a ten-day dream trip spent traversing a couple thousand miles across mountains, sleepy hollows, geysers, and forests throughout five different states, that I had a moment of reckoning with the Lord.
There is something about prayers whispered in the night that cause one to be more honest, as if spilling out the contents of the heart is safer under the cover of darkness. This honest conversation between the Lord and I caused me to take inventory of my life and my condition. I confessed that my life was stuck in neutral, neither going forward nor backward, while my condition, both mental and physical, had decelerated at an alarming pace. Despite being 37 years of age, an age when one should be spry and full-of-life, I had next to no vitality or zeal. And, there was one notable thing above all others – I was tired ALL THE TIME.
My chronic fatigue was something I could no longer excuse nor deny. Our dream trip in which no stresses of life accommodated us – no children, no work, and no schedules – should have found me full of vigor and enthusiasm. It did not. Instead, I slept in the car any chance I got. While my husband hunted down every single geyser and bison in Yellowstone National Park, I curled up in a ball and slept. I could not shake the exhaustion off. The trip, although filled with some unforgettable moments such as viewing a rainbow at 11,000 feet, found me feeling exactly like I did back at home where the demands of life drained me morning, noon, and night.
“Why Lord? Why?” I cried. Why I couldn’t shake this lethargic state of mind and body off, I did not know. But, since we were having a late night confessional, I pressed in, unwilling to believe that this was simply how life was supposed to be (which, I will add, is EXACTLY what the enemy wants us to believe). No, it couldn’t stay this way. I refused! I could not continue living a life that required two to three naps per day and the few waking hours were spent thinking about the next nap.
As I began to take inventory of my health, I started to see red flags that I had been ignoring. I was 35 pounds overweight despite eating child-sized portions and grazing throughout the day. My once thick hair was thinning, my fingernails split constantly, chronic neck pain had become my nemesis, seasonal allergies were a mainstay, headaches were frequent, mental fatigue clouded my thoughts like a cloak, and I had developed a gluten sensitivity. And, the biggest meanie of all…I was addicted to sugar. Completely. 100%. Addicted.
My favorite way to consume sugar was through Coca-Cola. A cold Coke greeted me when I woke up in the morning, revved me up during my afternoon slump, and gave me that final kick at the end of a long day. I never went longer than a couple of hours without a sip of its caramel-ly, fizzy taste. In fact, I was drinking one while the Lord and I were having our little chat. It was my drug, my constant companion, and my reward.
But, it was also leeching the life out of me.
Depressed from my state of mind and body, I knew that something had to change and it had to start with me. But, I also knew myself well enough to know that I couldn’t last a single day, or perhaps even a single hour, if I relied on my own power. I had failed in my attempts to kick my sugar habit many times before so I knew that another momentary resolve simply wouldn't be enough to carry me through the hours, days, and weeks ahead without my drug. I needed a power greater than myself. I needed the Lord.
“Lord, I don’t want to feel this way anymore. I don’t want to sleep my life away. I don’t want my children to see their mommy in the bed all the time. I don’t want to simply survive. I want more! I want that abundant life that you talk about. Will you help me find it? Will you help me do the things that I know I should be doing but can't?”
And, then, I added,
“Will you help me stop drinking Coke?”
If you are from the school of thought who believes the Lord looks upon requests such as this as insignificant or laughable, please allow me to correct you. He doesn’t. I am His child. And, just like my own children come to me with both small and large burdens and I listen to them, so does He. His Word tells us in Psalm 116:2 that not only does He listen, but He bends down to listen. Isn’t that the most comforting and beautiful picture? The Lord bends His ear to our whispered prayers, looking intently upon both our faces and our hearts, and has compassion for us. You can trust that your prayers are never a bother, too insignificant, or out of His reach. In fact, He longs to hear them.
I concluded my prayer by saying something that I had never said before. It was something radical! In fact, I couldn’t believe it came out of my mouth. But, once it rushed out, there was no taking it back. I said,
“Lord, I want to fast from Cokes for two weeks.”
Whoa! Did I really just say that? I had never…not once…fasted in my life! Where did that come from? Yet, as shocking as it was, I knew it was the answer. I had to do it! Then, I decided to do what all good addicts do: I finished my remaining Coke. The fast would have to start the next day.
When my husband awoke, I hesitantly confessed my fasting pledge to him. And, just like my own response, he said, “Whoa!” followed by, “Do you really think you could do this?”
No. Not for one second.
But God can.
The following two weeks found me longing for the caramel-ly, fizzy taste of my mineral-leeching vice, but I persisted. How? I prayed. I meditated on Scripture. I thought about how tasting that ice cold Coke wouldn’t be worth the remorse that I would feel if I broke my word to the Lord. This last thought is what primarily kept me going. God never, ever breaks His Word to me. Now, it was my turn to keep my word to Him.
After those two weeks were over, I was happy to realize that I didn’t die! I had actually done it! And, I sensed the Holy Spirit say to me, “If you went this far, why not go further?” “Yes, Lord!” was my response. “Why not go further?!”
And, so I kept going.
Now, here I am, 25 months later, still Coke-free!
The girl who couldn’t go a single day without a Coke, has now gone 760 days without one! And, it is all because I chose to lay it at the Lord’s very capable feet and leave it there. Not a sip has passed my lips since!
It was several months later when I felt led to give all forms of sugar (with the exception of fruit) the big heave-o as well. Guided by the brilliant book, The Trim Healthy Mama Plan, I embraced the nutritional knowledge shared by two of the healthiest, funniest, and smartest sisters that I know (well, I don’t personally know them but feel as if I do). And, like my former Coke days, I never looked back. Not a gram of sugar has passed my lips in 21 months. Praise God!
The wisdom contained within the pages of this book has been a tree of life for me. I have clung to it with all my might and have led scores of other women to it as well. Everything that was once lost to me – vitality, zest for life, energy, confidence, hope, and spiritual growth – has rebounded and returned much stronger than ever before.
My 37 year old self doesn’t hold a candle to my nearly 40 year old self. As I approach my over the hill birthday, I feel as if I have successfully scaled every inch of that ginormous hill and then reached back down to pull others up with me. Both the view and the companionship are amazing!
Ironically, life without sugar is so very sweet! My meals are packed with nutritionally-rich, yummy foods that I wouldn't have dared touch in my sugar days. Allergies and sickness of any sort have been non-existent these past 21 months. My chronic neck pain is no more. Naps are very infrequent and only when my mind and body need a Sabbath-like rest. I have dropped all the excess weight and do not live in fear of regaining a single pound. I am free from negative self-talk. And, most importantly, I have grown significantly in my faith. I am walking out the Lord’s will for this season of my life – teaching nutrition and brain health Bible studies, blog writing, mentoring women, and nourishing my family – far better and more faithfully than I have ever done before. There is not enough blog space to tell you the countless stories of all the people, including that of my own 9 year old son, who have benefitted from that one bold prayer whispered in the still of the night. Its ripple effect has been far-reaching and life-changing for many.
Today, if you find yourself on the same darkened winding road as I once was with all hope lost, I want to encourage you to give it to the One who is more than able to carry heavy loads. Not only can He carry your load, He asks for it. You will find that His shoulders are strong...much stronger than yours. But, when you ask, you must believe and not doubt James 1:6.
Whether it’s Coke, sugar, excess carbs, a worn-out body, or a worn-out spirit, pour out your heart to Him. Lay your burdens a His feet and then wait for the ripple to begin. You can do this!
Next week: I will share my top tips on how to successfully stay sugar-free. Like our Facebook page here: By Faith She to follow along.
First, I am a child of God. And, like a child, I am always learning and growing. The more I know Him, the more I love Him. Second, I am a wife to a good man. Missions is his thing while teaching women to love God’s Word is mine. Third, I am a mama to three plus a sweet cockapoo who thinks he’s #4. My children are my ongoing sanctification. Fourth, I am a passionate advocate of all things healthy & natural, an even 50/50 split of introvert/extrovert, and a dreamer/designer. Old friends call me Becky, newer ones call me Rebecca, and the most intimate ones call me Beck. You can just call me friend.