Four years ago our son Jeremiah was finishing his Sophomore year in high school. He came to me one day and asked, more intently than he ever had before, what he could do to be cut. He wanted a lean physique and defined muscles. He wanted to look hot!
I suggested he quit eating sugar and corn syrup, something I've never been able to give up for more then a couple months. This isn't a blog about shaming so I'm trying really hard not to hate myself right now because sugar is my addiction, my drug, my pornography have you seen how many cookie recipes I have pinned? Yah, so I told my son, Do as I say not as I do, so proud, hypocrisy much?
And wonder of wonder, to his sugar shootin' up mom, he did it! He just quit eating it and soon two of his brothers had joined him and suddenly I was baking sugar free granola bars and watching him exercise four or five hours a day and then he began to study health and nutrition and exercise science, compulsively read labels and for a while there he was standing on the edge of the eating disorder abyss, skinny dipping a toe or two in the murky but enticing ripples.
His dad was scared, I was scared. His dad yelled and demanded he eat. I lectured everything I knew, whether I could live it or not, about nutrition and appropriate calorie counts and moderate consumption of sugar and processed food and adrenal fatigue and elite athletics (for the record I know nothing about elite athletics or adrenal fatigue) his dad reiterated everything I said at eleventeen hundred megahertz. The more we yelled and lectured the less he ate then one day I told him I trusted him to do what was best for him. And though I was still cautious and hyper-aware of every bite he ate I felt an overwhelming sense of calm. Now my lectures were sharing what I was learning about health and exercise. His Dad spent less time yelling and more time cooking for him with his input.
Slowly he began to self moderate he increased his calorie intake to wise levels, he reduced his exercise times to something closer to reasonable. Then one day he told me, "I feel really great, and I want to help people the way you and dad helped me," and then he said the big thing, the thing that every parent needs to hear, "I got really close to anorexia, Mom, thanks for trusting me and sticking with me, I NEEDED TO SEE FOR MYSELF what it feels like so that I could help people."
Fast forward four years, Jeremiah is graduated, he's still off sugar and corn syrup, studying to be a personal trainer, working, two jobs, helping out the family when needed and making tough adult choices with grace and dignity, OK, he's stresses and yells like the rest of us but, ya know, so dignified.
And, I'm ridiculously proud of him! And, still helplessly addicted to sugar. And, two weeks ago he asks me to make him cookies, and cinnamon rolls and brownies, he's eating ice cream from a huge Iceberg cup "With extra snickers" he tells me.
"Mom, I can't even remember what it feels like to eat sugar" he says. "How can I ask someone to go off it and help them through their addiction if I don't remember how it feels?"
I started choking back tears, just like that I didn't want sugar EVER AGAIN! An hour later we're (the flesh is so weak) eating my cookies and he's telling how good they are but they give him heartburn, and everyday as he describes how tired he feels and notices the new patches of eczema that had cleared up years ago, or comes in panting after wrestling with the dog, he is showing me my symptoms, teaching me the gut wrenching truth of how my addiction effects me. And I think of Christ, how he willingly took upon himself flesh all of it, the addictions and pains and joys and appetites, happiness and anger, all of it. He experienced mortality so that I could learn to trust my experiences, and learn from them, and live them, shame free.
Christ teaches me that the divine purpose of my life is TO SEE FOR MYSELF, shame free.
My flesh may always say, head bent, "Hi, I'm Susan and I'm addicted to sugar." But, my soul proclaims that I am free.
Thank you, Son!