I always was a water drinker. I remember thinking that I wish I drank soda so that I had something I could give up, to cut calories, but, I couldn't break away from being just a water drinker. That is, until 3 years ago when I had my daughter. She was born with a problem that made her occasionally unable to breathe. Randomly day or night, while awake or sleeping, her eyes would fling wide in panic as she struggled to get air into her lungs. This meant that my husband and I didn’t sleep because we were always on the lookout for the legs kicking and arms flailing that meant she was not getting oxygen. The problem eventually resolved itself about five months after she was born, but, by that time I had been relying so heavily on a steady flow of soda, coffee, and energy drinks that now a tall glass of water looked more like a vase for a flower than something I should be drinking. For the past two years I have struggled to shrug off caffeine’s grip on me and return back to the fresh, cool life of a water drinker but it has been hard. I am finally down to about a couple of sodas per week and am feeling relief when water is what I am craving.
This got me to thinking, I was one person, a water drinker, and then through a set of unfortunate events I became another person, a soda drinker. If I can change so easily over something as silly as soda then how do I keep myself from swinging back and forth like a pendulum spiritually and emotionally? There were a few moments in the early afternoon where I thought I wouldn’t survive without a Dr. Pepper and it’s energy boost and if you had told me that I couldn’t have anymore sodas I probably would’ve wrestled you in a mad dash to the 7-Eleven down the street. I know that there have also been moments where I am so attached to my bitterness, nursing it as if it were good for me or needed, and if you had told me to step away from it, I might have wrestled you out the front door of my house rather than let it go.
In looking at the ridiculousness of the soda gluttony, I can see the ridiculousness of the bitterness or anger, or self pity, or narcissism gluttony and luckily, throughout my life, I have seen it quickly enough to purge it before it had time to take over and ruin me. Because that is really what it does. Think of someone you know who is so consumed with themselves and narcissistic that they have neglected those closest to them and ruined any chance in their lives of real relationships. Or think of the person who is so consumed with anger that it taints every word and action they perform, even the ones that are supposed to be love filled. Or think of the person who’s insides you imagine to be black and tar filled because of the poison of un-forgiveness or bitterness that they have been drinking, at first in small doses but now like a lifeline. Maybe you didn’t think of a person but instead you know this “person” is you.
I look at my daughter and know that she doesn't yet harbor un-forgiveness or stockpile self-pity or bitterness. She is not yet an adult walking around with a face creased by years of anxiety and fear. Right now she is innocent and most like the way we were created to be, as a person can be, yet, because of the sin nature that I know she, like all of us, was born with, one day those things will try to wedge their way into her previously uncluttered life. Fear of an older bully picking on her may turn to anger and meanness. The lure of acceptance may lead to dishonesty or concietedness. Emotional wounds inflicted by dumb boyfriends or bosses or supposed friends will twist and turn inside her heart and she will have to make the choices to let go of those wounds or cling to them and become someone different than who she was created to be.
As I end this year I am not looking back on 365 days and deciding what I want to do different next year but instead I find myself looking back over years. Who was I created to be? Who was the child that my parents laughed over, stood in awe of, cuddled with and encouraged? Where, along the way, did I pick up traits that I now think are just part of who I am and how can I go back to the original Sarah? Is it even possible?
I look at Psalm 139 and find relief and hope, perhaps you can as well:
13-16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother's womb. I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I'd even lived one day.
17-22 Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful! God, I'll never comprehend them! I couldn't even begin to count them— any more than I could count the sand of the sea....
23-24 Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I'm about; See for yourself whether I've done anything wrong— then guide me on the road to eternal life.
Body and soul we are marvelously made but along the way we take sometimes tiny and sometimes huge steps away from who we were created to be. We gather up the trash of anger, deceit, manipulation, bitterness, self pity, gluttony, gossip, pride, among many others and we cling to them. Re-dressing ourselves in them and claiming that "this is the new me." But it doesn't have to be. At the end of this year and the beginning of the next I am wrapping myself with the last verse of this chapter
See for yourself whether I've done anything wrong— then guide me on the road to eternal life.
Oh Lord guide me and show me who I really am...