|Coke's stock immediately plummeted.|
I told my brother about stopping. He told me I would have to start drinking Diet Coke instead. Gross. I had no intention. And then he said the thing that was probably the most helpful in quitting: "You will fail. If you don't start drinking Diet Coke instead, you will fail. The headaches. It's what I had to do." I was resolute: I would not drink Diet Coke (ew), and I would not fail, mostly because I HAD to be able to prove my brother wrong. Those who have siblings will understand the intensity of that particular fire.
|I typically played the part of the brother on the left.|
A little more than a year later, Wesley was born. I had successfully beat my Coke demon, but I was still significantly overweight and completely out of shape. I needed to set a better example for my child. I didn't want him to wait until he was 30 to decide that fitness matters. So I started exercising and eating better. I ate more chicken and less red meat. More veggies and less fried food. Not none, just less. I tracked my calories. I didn't snack as much, and when I did it was healthy food. And over a period of the next couple of years, I lost 60 pounds.
Years, not months. Because I was committed to doing it right. I was committed to healthy living, not losing weight. It had taken me 30 years to get that big, so I had to expect it would take a some time to get smaller. I remember the first time I stepped on the scale and it read less than 200 pounds. I took a picture of it. It was a hugely triumphant moment for me. Some time after that I had lost enough weight that Lisa actually asked me to put a little back on! In consultation with my doctor, I arrived at an ideal weight for me. I felt good. I looked healthy. All was well.
Addiction is a genetic trait, and it is prevalent in my family. Across the years I have seen evidence that I am inclined to addiction myself. It looks an awful lot like just being a creature of habit. At various points in my life it has looked like playing video games too much or watching TV too much. In April of 2006 I realized it looked like drinking Coca Cola. The only way to beat the addiction, at least for me, was to name it and reject it. Every. Day. Forget weeks or months or years. Daily I had to remind myself of who I was and (more importantly) why I was. I was not here to drink Coke. I was here to be a husband and father. I was here to serve in ministry.
I won, y'all. I won. I beat it.
|Yeah. It felt that good.|
Then I started drinking Coke on vacation. Because I liked it...or that's what I thought, a nice little treat for the off time. But now I realize it's because I liked how I felt when I drank it. Awake. Present. Energetic.
Tour only. Vacation only. Then I added special occasions. My birthday. Someone else's birthday...
|It's the 30th anniversary of Spaghetti Junction!|
It won't last, though. I know what will happen. Over time, my body will adjust to the level of caffeine intake, and it will lose its ability to pick me up. Instead, my body will feel a drag if I don't have it. But it sure was nice to have all that energy!
In an undoing of all that work 10 years ago, the re-entrance of Coke into my diet brought with it a number of other bad habits. Fewer vegetables. More fried food (though in full honesty it's not like it once was). I guess that's where I am right now. I'm not as bad as I once was. I've added about half of those 60 pounds back on. I still don't drink as much Coke as I did. I still eat more vegetables than I did. It's just that I was thinking the other day about the trajectory of it all. I'm moving away from what I need to be doing rather than toward it, and I'm afraid I'm accelerating in the wrong direction.
I. Have. Failed.
Four days ago, on September 22, 2017 CE (Children Era), I had a "come to Jesus" with myself in which I honestly evaluated my habits and realized that my addiction to Coca Cola had overcome me once again. That was Friday. I decided on that day, just like I did on April 10, 2006, that I will start moving in the right direction again...a direction that doesn't include drinking Coke.
Sunday, September 24, was hard, y'all. I walked in the door at home at the end of the day and felt like crap. Completely drained. I had been tired in all my rehearsals that evening, and I think my choirs could tell. It would be hard not to. But I had done it without caffeine, and that's not nothing.
|Seriously, less battery life than an IPhone.|
I know this all sounds silly. In the face of an opioid epidemic and alcoholism and other drug abuse, addictions that actually kill people, this is downright ridiculous. But here's the thing. If, when confronted by our own failing, we point a finger at people who are failing harder than we are, we are merely making excuses for not being the best we can be. I can't accept that from myself. All of us, every man, woman, and child, chooses every day to move in the right direction or the wrong one.
I'm not a racist, right? I wasn't carrying a tiki torch and hurling slurs, right? Well, no. But I've laughed a racist jokes. I've benefited from a tilted playing field. Just because I'm "not as bad as those other guys" doesn't mean I'm not racist. I am. I am racist. That doesn't make me a bad person. It just means I need to forgive myself for failing in that regard and start moving in the right direction.
I can't tell you what the right direction is for you. I can only tell you what it is for me. For me, it's doing my best to be the me God created good. To love. And to forgive...especially to forgive myself when I mess up.