This Temple. This Body. This Home.
“Autumn comes quietly to wed the countryside. The maples all down the lane blush and silently disrobe. I make beds, smooth out sheets.”—Ann Voskamp
Autumn darkens quietly as we enter December and my fortieth year comes to a close. A year ago I carried a secret within me, one that has delighted us and changed our lives forever in deep, profound ways. He remained a secret until my birthday, and the anniversary of this discovery is this week. My Solomon. The sweetest gift from the Holy One, my kind and loving heavenly Father.
My pregnancy was beautiful and prayer-filled. The hardest part was eliminating sugar and following a strict low carb diet due to gestational diabetes. I could not have done it if it weren't for such a sacred purpose—my son. The benefits were manifold, including weight loss; after Solomon was born, I weighed thirteen pounds less than I did before I became pregnant.
The temple of my body
Over the last few years I have begun to understand what it means that my body truly is the temple of the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor. 6:19-20) God dwells in me. What a profound and life-altering truth that leaves me sober and thoughtful. I've grieved many ways I've not made this body a gracious home (John 14:23) for the Spirit of the Most High. I do not feel condemnation, only sorrow for choices I've made and things I've done that were not rooted in holiness for the temple.
For instance, if I'd known then what I know now, I would not have inked my flesh. (This is not a judgement towards others who do; simply, what I've personally come to feel for myself.) The summer before my pregnancy, I began laser treatments to remove several of my tattoos. It's a lengthy process that takes many appointments spread out over two-month increments. I won't resume them until I finish breastfeeding, but recently I caught my breath over a flash of uncomfortable insight: it's easy to regret the tattoos. It's easy to wish I had not inked my skin. But what about the sugar?
Throughout my lifelong struggle with weight, I always consoled myself with "Well, at least I don't have a problem with overeating." And it was true. My doctor told me I was not eating enough. I was happy to prove "everyone" wrong when "they" judged women like me with eating too much. It's the hormones, ok? I have PCOS. I'm not stuffing my face with fried chicken all day or drowning in liters of coke. I'm a vegetarian. I drink tons of water. My eating habits were not always good—cups and cups of coffee in lieu of breakfast, for example—but did not fulfill the fat lady stereotype.
Following my low-carb, relatively sugar-free pregnancy, this began to change. I'm sad to say I've made up for months of saying no to sweets by saying yes, yes, yes.
These first few months of motherhood have been beautiful and challenging. My sweet Solomon spent hours and hours each day in tears, and sometimes I would join him. At day's end, when sleep would come for my little one at last, and a quieting of his tears, I found myself reaching more and more for the chocolate, the luscious bites, the creaminess of Ben & Jerry's. It's hard to say it, but I think...I think I'm on the brink of sugar addiction. If not tumbling headfirst into it.
Perhaps I would not array this temple with ink, but would I stuff it full of sugar? Well, I have.
It's humbling to observe how powerless I feel against it. I've never experienced this before. I've enjoyed sweet things, yes, but not...this. I've prayed and confessed this weakness to God. I've cried out over the desires of my flesh. I've even considered that spiritual warfare surrounds this for me. Things need to change. My body is the temple of God and a nourishing home for my husband and son. I cannot sacrifice my health, clarity of mind and spirit, presence of being, strength, or quality of living on the altar of sugar. In a few days I will be forty-one and I have a four-month-old son. I want to be here for him, vibrant, creative and strong. I have a husband who works so hard for our little family, and I need to be here for him and our home. I have a ministry and will soon be opening a simple online store. I cannot afford to give all this up for the sluggishness, tiredness, gained weight and foggy-brain of too much sugar. Not to mention—potential for diabetes or untimely death.
You know when you're reading something and the words jump out like you've never seen them before? And then you can't forget what you've found? This happened one day while reading an obscure passage in Numbers. Moses had led the children of Israel out of cruel slavery in Egypt and they were en route to the Land of Milk and Honey. Along the way, God miraculously fed them with manna, which was a miracle bread from heaven.
But they grew tired of it.
Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: “Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!” (Num. 11:4-6)
After all God had done for them—setting them free after four-hundred years of hard labor, parting the Red Sea so they could escape Pharaoh's army, providing food and water in the wilderness, working miracles among them—the Israelites complained and longed for the food of their slavehood.
Even still, God heard their desire. He sent them so much meat in the form of quail that Scripture tells us they fluttered throughout their camp about "two cubits," or three feet deep. (Num. 11:31-33) And then,
But while the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the wrath of the Lord was aroused against the people, and the Lord struck the people with a very great plague. So he called the name of that place Kibroth Hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had yielded to craving. (Num. 11:33-34)
Kibroth Hattaavah. In Hebrew, this means "Graves of Craving."
I can't forget this story or the name of that burial ground: graves of craving. How does this speak to my appetites? How many times have I yielded to intense craving? I realize this story has a particular context and doesn't mean we can't enjoy a variety of delicious foods, especially when partaken with thankfulness to the One who made our food and our tastebuds and digestive system.
But for those like me who struggle with "intense craving," there's a sobering takeaway here. And as I move into a new year with a new son, I am thoughtful and prayerful.