So as the title plainly states, I ate my first sweet in a little over a year in a half. For all my friends and family back home, yes that’s right I caved in. For my fellow YAVs and site coordinator (Emily, Sophia, and Sarah) who were with me in Bogotá, Colombia when this life altering event took place, yes I’m seriously writing a blog post about it 🙂 And don’t you all worry, of course I took a video of it:
In the hours after this video was taken I felt beyond terrible. Not because of the sugar (although that did result in a blood sugar crash) but because of the fact I had eaten a “sweet.” All the negative aspects of eating sweets were spinning in (figurative) circles around my head as I lay in bed later that night pondering whether it was a mistake and I should go back to my no sweet eating, with this as a lesson. Or are there indeed some valuable reasons for me to eat sweets.
It’s worth mentioning that a valuable reason is not just to eat good tasting stuff. It’s not hard for me to deny myself some sugary dessert. But what is difficult is to deny the gift of generosity from a Colombian friend who’s trying to make me feel welcome and at home by treating me to something sweet:
Initially, when weighing all the positives and negatives in to eat, or not to eat, sweets, the negatives were the only thing I could see. However, for some reason I felt as if God wanted me to eat sweets again, if even just for this year in Colombia. I know that sounds funny saying God wanted me to eat sweets, and I’m sure most all of you reading this right now wish you would get that same mandate, but for me that was actually something extremely hard to accept. But as I looked back over my past week in Bogota, it was blatantly clear that’s what God had in store.
For starters, upon settling into the apartment where we’d be staying for our 9 day retreat, I told my fellow YAVs I was going to throw in the towel on sweets sometime during the retreat.
Furthermore, I was put in many situations where I had many “positive reasons” to eat sweets (such as accepting a popsicle from a girl at the project, or sharing some deserts with friends after a day of being show around town). But of course, being the stubborn young man I am, for every situation I encountered throughout the week I had an excuse. I convinced myself that I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to go ahead and eat sweets again. And somehow, it was never the “right time,” things needed to be better for me to finally eat the “cave in” sweet.
God just kept pulling at me though, offering new and improved situations. Until finally, it was the 2nd to last night of our retreat, and we were at my favorite chain restaurant here in Colombia, Crepes & Waffles, and I was with everyone from my Colombian YAV group (like I had wanted to be), and they serve some bomb.com ice cream (like I had wanted to eat), and I had made the commitment I was going to cave in, so I did.
Anyway, the video shows and explains the rest from there.
Back on track, as I laid in my bed just hours after eating my first sweet, having realized that God was calling me towards that Banana Split, I wondered: why did God want me to eat that? Was it indeed for a lesson that I shouldn’t be eating sweets and I was becoming weak? Or was there something more?
It was then that the culture here surrounding “sweet eating” popped into my head. Simply put, eating sweets here is part of the culture (in my experience at least). It’s not like the US where you tell your host: no, you wouldn’t like desert because you don’t eat sweets, and they completely understand, and most probably congratulate you on your feat. Instead, here I get hammered with question after question about why I don’t eat sweets, until the conversation ultimately ends with the other person thinking I’m a weirdo and don’t like the taste of sugary delights for some reason. Whereas in the states we view chunky people as unhealthy, numerous times I have heard people here say that it means you’re well fed and healthy if you have some fat on you. Furthermore, people here do not keep sweets around the house. When they eat sweets, it’s either for a special occasion, or it involves going out to buy the dessert to make a little outing of it. As with so many other aspects of this great culture, sweet eating is a time of bonding and sharing (compartiendo for those of you who remember that lesson some blog posts back), and so it is custom to take part in it.
After some journaling that night as I laid in bed distressed about my decision, and having made the above realizations, I came to the following conclusions: Is eating sweets the best for my health? The truth is no, it is not. But is it worth that small sacrifice in health to reap the positive benefits of sweet eating? Yes. And so I realized the message God was sending me with breaking my “no sweet eating”: sacrifice is required in order to adapt and share with another culture (and at that, it doesn’t stop). Sometimes those sacrifices are easier, as they’re for adaptations you’re interested in making, such as learning to speak a new language. But sometimes, that sacrifice is something you hold quite dear. For myself, eating as healthy as possible (aka no sweets) was an aspect of my life that was quite important to me. But making that sacrifice to further adapt to the culture here helps me dive that much deeper into my understanding, and ultimately admiration, for the Colombian Culture.
So yes, I now eat sweets 🙂