The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread. Mother Teresa

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A Little Think

Just give me the cookie and no one gets hurt!

What is it about confession that leads to thanksgiving? That profound theological question, debated for centuries, overflows with Truth. For here, for now, I'll keep it simple. It's about my sweet tooth.

My dad was a civil engineer who designed my birth announcement on a blueprint with hand-sketched baby, length, weight, eye/hair color. I didn't see the heavenly blueprint of my self, but I'm pretty sure there's a sweet tooth in there somewhere. So I could blame it on God, right? My mother, a great cook, guarded sweets like a hawk. What happens when you tell the kid not to go to the cookie jar? She goes. And I did and I do.

To keep one step ahead of me, mother put them in tins in the locked upright freezer in the utility room next to the dryer. Creativity to the rescue, I used my allowance, got off the bus after school in front of the Wilmette Golf Club, went to the candy machine and scored an Oh Henry bar to eat on the way home. The Pro, Stan Najowski, never said a word. But I think he knew. Then I'd waltz into the house, eat my healthy fruit snack, practice piano and head out the door to play.

This habit drove me to higher levels of deceit, or would that be lower levels of deceit? Eventually I skipped the candy bars and learned to pick the lock on the freezer. Years later I learned my sister did the same thing. We never told each other. My mom must have wondered where those cookies went, but she never let on.

I wish that were the end of the story, but one thing leads to another. The sweet tooth at the university level spent way too much time in the Spudnut shop at the University of Illinois in Champaign. In a rather fully functioning adult it demanded appeasement 5 days a week on #1 N. Wacker Drive during lunch hours at AT&T when I'd pop downstairs to the Fannie May candy shop for 95 cents' worth. Talk about what drives your bus! We will not discuss the dental bills, the weight, the guilt, the increasingly insatiable desire for more. Maybe you know about it, too. The worst part was, no matter how much I got, stashed, ate or hid...I was never particularly thankful for the sugar or its adrenalin rush. I needed it, but wasn't thankful when I got it. In fact, I resented it.

This gives me the willies now. I was so out of control, but I could go back there in a second and still do, now and then. But if I skip sweets for a few days, then it doesn't even occur to me to go after them. [No, Halloween is not tempting. I prefer quality calories.] Incidentally, with my kids I avoided locking the freezer and didn't make a big deal out of sweets. No sweet tooth among them and amazing teeth with few, if any, cavities.

Now I can't really blame God for giving me a sweet tooth. It's not necessary to castigate my mom for going to such extremes to be sure I didn't get into sweets because they were bad for me. At some point one has to do an inventory of poor choices, fess up and get on with life. And that's where the thankful part comes in. The Truth is, once I confessed the "sweet" connection with its sour aftermath, I realized it was a kind of idol. I mean, "Give me the cookie and no one gets hurt!" Then I realized I needed God to wipe that slate clean so I could start over. He did. It's called forgiveness, not because I deserve it, but because of what Christ did in my behalf on the cross. For that I'm thankful. I'm also pleased to be out of total bondage to the sweet tooth. When you kick something bad out you're wise to let something good in.

I didn't consciously do that, but I realize now how thankful I became for the fresh start He offered and I let in! The fresh start was not wanting more, and feeling satisfied with less. That old lesson could come in handy right now with the market volatility, the instability of the dollar, the fear about how much is enough. Since hard won lessons usually have some good residual value, I'm counting on the sweet tooth lesson to get me through this. I'm also counting my blessings!

You're one of 'em! Thanks for reading me. Now have a little think about this. [Check out my blog for the Day of Reckoning!]

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