As I transitioned from high school to college, a strange thing happened: I no longer had a taste for chocolate. The horror! I confess this, knowing that some of my readers just lost all faith in me. Imagine, not liking chocolate, when I am surrounded by people addicted to the stuff. Surely I’m kidding, right?
I QUIT LIKING CHOCOLATE!
Everything else in my 18-year-old world seemed normal at the time. I was full of energy, easily distracted, lacking many of the disciplines it took decades to learn, and far more interested in playing than in doing college homework. But, among my many faults and foibles, I wasn’t temped to eat chocolate. "This is crazy," I thought, as a friend would offer me a Hershey or Nestle’s chocolate bar. "I have always liked chocolate. What happened to me?"
For a while, the only answer I could come up with…the only answer that made any sense...was something I once heard about taste buds changing every few years. I had heard that taste buds change every so often and that some people end up liking food they didn’t like before or vice versa. Surely that must be what happened to me and chocolate.
I held on to that theory until I remembered something one day. It was something I had pushed back into the far recesses of my mind, but somehow it jumped out at me. It was a memory from my senior year in high school. That year I had a job before and after school, so I had a little spending money. I also was a member of the high school German Club. Our annual club fundraiser was selling World’s Finest chocolate. Back then, a pretty good sized World’s Finest bar was fifty cents. We also sold their Bon Bons for a dollar a box. They were an almond covered with chocolate and coated by a hard candy shell, as I remember it. Anyway, I checked out a case of the bars (twenty of them) and a case of the Bon Bons (ten of them) to sell.
The only thing was that I didn’t have much time to sell. I was working many days before and after school. I was also working on the weekends pretty often and involved in lots of school activities. The work meant that I had money and, besides, I LOVED CHOCOLATE!
So I ate it.
Then I ate more of it. Bar after bar (almost two cases, I think) and box after box.
I ate it until I couldn’t stand the thought of chocolate. I just quit liking it.
If you have stayed with me this long, I need to let you in on a little secret. This message isn’t about chocolate. It’s about something else that I overindulged as a kid. I overindulged so badly that, one day I did something that scared me to the core. It scared me so deeply, in fact, that it still marks the way I interact with people.
My childhood overindulgence was anger. I got so angry one day (I was probably 9 or 10 years old at the time), I seriously tried to hurt someone I loved. I still shudder to think of it. Fortunately, I didn’t really hurt the person, but the shock of my own rage flipped some kind of inner switch in me that has, to this day, kept me wary of any anger that comes up inside of me.
Over the years, I have looked back on times when some anger would have been appropriate, but I have deferred to soft responses. I know that "A gentle answer deflects anger…" (Proverbs 15:1 New Living Translation). However, I also know that Jesus, the One I serve…the One who lives in me...fiercely drove out the money-changers in the Temple. If God shows wrath at times, it’s a part of the natural, inherent makeup of those created in His image.
It took a long, long time, but I started liking chocolate again. Some days I like it too much, but I take heart in studies that show a moderate amount of chocolate (at least the dark variety) is actually good for you. I dare say that the same is true of anger. But honestly, I haven’t figured out how to use it correctly yet. I will have to keep growing in this area.
This weekend at Stone Ridge Church, we take a hard look at some things Jesus said about war and peace. I don’t think chocolate will find its way into this sermon, but anger? Undoubtedly! Can’t join us? Catch the podcast!