I am an addict. I need prayers, as experience has shown only God can provide me with true aid. I am physically, mentally and spiritually weak. God’s strength has rescued me occasionally in the past. He truly is my lone hope.
I am addicted to McDonald’s fast food. I’m not smiling when I write that. I’m sincerely not mocking what I do consider more dangerous addictions such as alcoholism (my family and I have experience with alcohol abuse, unfortunately) and drugs. That said, food addiction can threaten, causing many severe health issues. Fast food ramps up that threat.
I work with a man in his 40s who has never eaten a Big Mac; until last year, I was eating two-all-beef-patties-special-sauce-lettuce-cheese-pickles-onions-on-a-sesame-seed-bun several times a week, and had been for much of my life. I officially climbed aboard the wagon that steers clear of Big Macs and large fries at the beginning of 2015 and haven’t delighted in either menu item for 539 days (and counting). I successfully downsized my one meal calorie intake in part by eating only a chicken sandwich or regular hamburger and either small or medium fries when I did visit Ronald’s dining rooms, which helped me drop 30 pounds in eight months.
Alas, I discovered McDonald’s hotcakes, which the restaurant chain serves all day. The three pancakes aren’t terribly fattening – a mere 350 calories – but that syrup, oh, that syrup! One hundred-eighty calories and more than half the sugar an average American should consume in one day, all in that itty-bitty sealed box. True confession: I occasionally ask for a second dose of syrup.
Don’t be so quick to pooh-pooh my devotion, er, I mean dependence. “McDonald’s addiction” is a real thing. Google it; you’ll see. For instance, a cardiovascular research scientist in Kansas City, Mo., published a paper last year in which he says refined sugar is similar to — and perhaps more addictive than — cocaine.
I’m so glad I’ve never tried cocaine, but sugar might be the most socially acceptable addictive drug in human history. The King of Fast Food pours sugar into almost everything, including the hamburger buns, the ketchup, the fries and the oh-my-heavens syrup. Practically all my favorite Mickey D’s foods also have the addictive components of fat and salt in high quantities, both in highly processed forms. To my wife’s constant consternation, I feel absolutely enslaved to that food. Since last August, I have gone more than three consecutive days without sneaking at least one meal from McDonald’s only once, and I’ve gotten up to three days only a handful of times.
Still, for me, they are not happy meals. They are reminders of my weakness as a man, my inability to control myself when my instincts tell me to stop. I know it with absolute clarity, and then there are days like a recent Wednesday. My major depression powerfully had preyed on my mind and emotions for several days. On the Tuesday of that week, the weight of sadness felt so heavy that I couldn’t get out of bed until well into the afternoon; I didn’t get into the office that day, not completely unusual since I have been on intermittent leave for quite a few months. On Wednesday, I was determined not to miss an entire day but still faced the roar of my “prowling lion.” I finally got moving late in the morning, showered, dressed and climbed into my SUV shortly after 11.
I quickly noticed I felt hungry. Without time to go into the restaurant for pancakes, I considered myself lucky and strong with the decision to eat just a hamburger and small fries from the drive-through. Quickly, my guilt kicked in as I heard some wise whispering in my head: “You shouldn’t get anything. Don’t make that right turn. Go left instead. Avoid the sight of the restaurant.” How I wished I had the firm heart to do that on my own. I didn’t. So I turned to my only chance. I recalled a couple of verses from Psalm 62:
“My soul, be at rest in God alone, from whom comes my hope.
“God alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress I shall not fall.”
“Please, God, may your will, and not my will, be done. Please be my strength right now. Please come to my rescue.” At that moment, I happened to look down and noticed my gas gauge was almost on empty. I had noticed it the day before; this particular morning, my short-term memory failed as it increasingly has the last 14 years. The gas station was on my way to work, but it meant turning left instead of right at my decisive intersection – still just a block away from the restaurant. As I waited for the pump to fill the tank, something overwhelmed me. I hung up the nozzle, got back into the Highlander and made a left out of the convenience store parking lot, toward the office and away from the restaurant.
I had no idea what would happen the next day. As I sit here in my recliner tonight, tapping away at my laptop, I have no idea what will happen tomorrow morning. But I know that on one day, God delivered me. And I know that He can again — for me and for anyone with an addiction.
Let’s pray tonight for all those whose lives are in danger because of addiction.