In my teen years I became a chocaholic. Yes, I was completely addicted. I loved coconut and CHOCOLATE. I loved nuts and CHOCOLATE. I loved caramel and CHOCOLATE. I loved fudge on my CHOCOLATE ice cream. I liked to eat chocolate all by itself: dark, milk, semi-sweet, it didn’t matter as long as it was CHOCOLATE! I could not choose a favorite. Was I a chocaholic? I didn’t think so. Denial? Of course not! Chocolate really should be its own food group anyway… Right?
Perhaps it was that I had a job, my own income, without too many bills, that I became addicted. I could buy chocolate every time I went to the store. After all candy bars weren’t too expensive back then… They would often be on sale, buy one get one free. Maybe it was my inborn sweet tooth; after all, I did take after my dad… If there were sweets around they were to be devoured, not saved. Whatever it was, the older I got the more refined my addiction became.
In my mid-twenties I had developed my favorite chocolate drink. Who doesn’t need a nice warm drink before going to bed, especially on those cold winter nights? I would have my gourmet hot cocoa mix to which I would add a handful of quality chocolate chips and stir them in until they melted. I would often times garnish it with grated fine chocolate on top, sometimes adding whipped cream, sometimes not. You know that if it looks beautiful, it tastes even better. I didn’t drink one every night, so… of course, I wasn’t addicted. I didn’t have a problem.
In my late twenties, after having two children, we discovered that my husband was diabetic. Oops! We started changing our lifestyle for his health’s sake. I did (and still do!) want to keep him around to watch our children grow up and become who they were born to be. Did I give up chocolate? No, I just started hiding it and eating it from my stash when he was not around. I didn’t want to bring him down. I did eat less of it. Our healthier eating habits helped. And it also helped that my oldest child was very observant and wanted to eat anything Mommy did. She was almost always with me because my employer let me bring her to work. Sneaking chocolate wasn’t always an easy task, but I definitely had not turned my back on my chocolate habit and would often overindulge when I got the chance.
My turning point
I was almost thirty now and just pregnant with our third child. I remember very vividly standing in front of the counter in my mother’s kitchen reaching for a Costco size bag of M&Ms. No one else was around, my children were sleeping. As I stretched my hand out to grab the bag I heard a voice that seemed to fill the entire kitchen (My mom has a huge kitchen.) say, “Me or Chocolate?” Jesus’ face immediately came to mind.
I looked around in shock. “REALLY?”
Where had this come from? I hadn’t asked God to take Chocolate away from me. I didn’t see it as any kind of problem in my life to eat a little of it here and there. I wasn’t studying then and I wasn’t even praying. Why would He ask such a thing?
It was just a whispered answer this time, “You choose. Me or chocolate?” That was enough for me. If I had to choose, I would choose Him. I held my hands up in surrender and turned away from the counter.
I can’t say that giving up chocolate was easy. Do you know how many delicious desserts are made of CHOCOLATE?!? If you take chocolate out of your diet, your dessert options are reduced by at least 75%!
I felt a little foolish telling my husband and relatives that I didn’t eat chocolate anymore; however, it was something I couldn’t keep secret. I did not make an announcement to them saying, “I am no longer eating chocolate.” Instead it was answering their questions when I declined the chocolaty treats they offered me.
“Why are you not eating chocolate anymore?” They would ask.
“Because I’m not.” I would try to get out of answering.
“Why not? You like chocolate!” It was true, they knew I liked it. I didn’t have a scientific reason for not eating it. I wasn’t cutting sugar out of my diet at that time, so I couldn’t use that as an excuse. The truth was the only thing I had left.
Sheepishly I would say, “Because God told me too.” Then I would have to tell them my story.
It Gets Easier
I repeatedly had to just say, “No.” With each refusal of my great temptation, it got easier and easier to decline. There were times when I really just wanted chocolate. But I would see His face and I knew I wanted Him more. I had to trust that He was asking this of me because He loves me. And again, I would say, “No.”
I did try to find substitutes. No, carob is not chocolate!! It is an acquired taste that I did not have. Chocolate is chocolate there is no other. I had never liked carob before and still didn’t. Yet, the good Lord blessed me with a couple of friends who had discovered a couple really good recipes (Peppermint Carob Fudge and a Carob Hot Chocolate mix) that helped me learn to like carob. Both of these recipes were so rich I treated them the way desserts are supposed to be treated, and only ate them sparingly, not as a whole course!
For the rest of my pregnancy I did not take another bite of chocolate. I figured that God was asking this of me for the health of my child. That helped to make giving it up easier. Since my child’s nourishment came from me, I figured I still needed to keep chocolate out of my diet while I nursed. But what happened when I stopped nursing?
I hadn’t been eating chocolate for over two and a half years. I asked God to let me know if I could go back to it. He never gave me a verbal answer, but He showed me that He would never ask me to give up something that was good for me.
I don’t know how many dollars our family has saved since I gave up chocolate. I don’t know if it was for the health of my child or me that I was asked to give it up. Was it getting in the way of my relationship with God? I don’t know the answers. But I know that He knows. I accept His reasons, whatever they may be, they are all I need.
What about you?
So what about you? Should you give up chocolate too? No, not unless God is asking you too. What God asks of me is not going to be the same thing He asks of you. You are created uniquely in His image and have different needs and desires than I do. God treasures you and wants you to treasure Him too.
Do you have something that is coming between you and God today? Are you an addict to something you don’t realize you’re addicted to? He may be asking you to give up something that you don’t think you can live without. It might be as simple as a television show or as difficult as your favorite food…. There are many things that are pushed between our heart and God. God is asking you to remove them and to love Him “with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37
God loves you more than words can ever express. He wants you to be able see and know that. He wants the best for you. He wants you to thrive in all you do. He wants you to do what you do with Him. He truly knows the desires of your heart, He knows them better than you do. He will be your strength and help you say, “No.” When you give up the thing(s) that is getting in the way, you will find yourself truly blessed. You will see that He knew you better than you knew yourself.
If you take time to listen to Him today, to choose Him, He will guide you. Before you know it, 5, 10, 15 years from now you will look back and thank Him for helping you give up what you thought you couldn’t. You will find, at the end of the day, it really wasn’t what you wanted. “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12
And it is the crown of life that our heart truly desires, not a bag of chocolate!