When the Sweet Fix Makes You Sick

During last year’s 40 Day Sugar Fast I learned and relearned one overarching lesson, day by day. It was as though The Lord was reaching into my humble offering plate, tracing my meager mite with His finger, and saying with a gentle whisper, “Thanks for giving me your sugar addiction… but I want it all. I want all of you.”
My dear friend Katie M. Reid is joining me for a second year in a row. Last year she experienced a similar call on her heart: “Yes, I’ll take your sugar, but I want your anger too.” This year He’s taking her deeper still and asking for more.


By Katie M. Reid
Edmund was already feeling uncomfortable from having eaten too many sweets, and when he heard that the Lady he had made friends with was a dangerous witch he felt even more uncomfortable. But he still wanted to taste that Turkish Delight more than he wanted anything else. -C.S. Lewis (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe).
Sometimes when you first taste a sugary treat it is delicious. The sweetness melts in your mouth and satisfies your craving. But have you ever indulged past the point of what you knew was reasonable? What once tasted divine leaves you with a headache, a stomach ache, or just an all-around lousy feeling.
The more you eat, the worse you feel.
That’s how it started for me. One taste led to another and soon I couldn’t stop. What began as something that made me feel satisfied morphed into something I couldn’t live without.
The constant stream of sugar I used to feed my emptiness filled me temporarily until the next fix. But the more I indulged the more I craved and the lousier I felt with each encounter.
I’m not really talking about sugar though.
I started this fast giving Him my sugar, but within the first 24 hours I knew that sugar wasn’t my vice. I’d grown addicted to a different sort of sweet.
The Fix that Breaks
The likes, the hearts, the thumbs up, and the shares that I received on social media began as beautiful encouragement to my discouraged soul. However, over time they’ve become something from which I can’t easily abstain.
An addiction to approval has a bigger hold on me than my afternoon delight of semi-sweet chocolate chips smothered in peanut butter. And that’s saying a lot!
It’s hard for me to go too long without checking who likes, notices, and approves of me.
When I’m especially discouraged I reach out, with shaky hand, to get my next affirmation buzz.
A few likes are no longer enough. I hunger for hundreds more and then it will be thousands. And when will it ever stop?
The addiction grows in power over me, controlling my happiness, constantly demanding to be fed.
I look to the attention of others, the stats, the approval ratings to see if I’m okay. Even when I feel acknowledged it isn’t enough. I set my sights on bigger and better, but I’m left with an ache; feeling lousy.
I walk away from the fix more discouraged then before because it doesn’t fulfill my soul.
Encouragement is a powerful tool. Pats on the back and thumbs up can lift us when we’re down. But when we take what was once sweet and prostitute it to fill us, we are left with a cheapened experience.
I want to stop playing the harlot—stop using people to make me feel good.
I’m sick of my self-indulgent heart keeping me from the pure delight of Jesus’ love.
I want to be made well.
The Break that Fixes
It’s hard to admit the ugliness of my sin, yet confession points the way to freedom.
When I see how others are seeking Him, unadulterated, I am tempted to retreat in shame—not feeling worthy to be among them. Feeling dirty—mixed motives present—in their company.
Yet, then, I think of her…the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). She was called out, caught in the act, yet Jesus did not condemn her. He had every right to accuse and find her guilty, but He chose another way. The heavy stones dropped as He picked up grace and wrapped it ‘round her with tenderness. Jesus did not leave her there in her filth. He told her to “Go and sin no more.” She was released to live differently. She was handed a clean slate, given a fresh start, freed to choose a more excellent way.
This is why I’m taking a break from sugar, because something is broken.
The allure of man’s approval has left me wanting. And I yearn for the genuine thing—approval found in Jesus alone.
Only Jesus’ affections and affirmation will truly satisfy.
We can find approval in Christ because of what He did on the cross. He took all of our sin, our addictions, our hidden faults and died for us so that we could be forgiven and restored to God. Jesus then rose again so that we can live victoriously and eternally.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)
This is sweet news indeed. This is the hope that can be ours if we admit our need for Jesus. The world offers an artificial concoction of affirmation that leaves us sick yet longing for more. Jesus reaches down to pick us up, in the midst of brokenness, and wraps us with grace. He helps us to our feet and points to a better way—the way of Love.
Dear Lord,
When we feel discouraged draw us to Your Presence.
When our flesh craves approval may we run to Your unconditionally love.
Instead of indulging in unhealthy binges may we feast on Your Word that fills.
Instead of reaching for temporary fixes may we lift our hands to worship You. Amen
With Grace,
Katie M. Reid is a tightly wound woman who fumbles to receive and extend grace in everyday moments. She delights in her hubby, four children (with one more on the way) and their life in ministry. Through her writing, singing, speaking and photography she encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life.
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