How The New York Times Fixed My Sin Problem

First of all, some of you will read this and it won’t make sense. That’s ok. Whisper a quiet, ‘thank you’ and continue on about your business. But some of us understand. Some of us know all too well what it is like to hear every issue labeled a ‘sin’ – and no helpful remedy be offered other than pray harder and read your Bible more. In fact, in most of those sermons we’re rarely even advised as to how we should pray – or given prayers to pray; or told what scriptures we should read. Forget someone sitting down to just read a Psalm of comfort with us.

Back to my sin.

Apparently it was one of the most egregious ones available. And as someone who does my own public speaking and preaching I have to admit to being irritated by this behavior at times myself. I slept. In church. Never mind that from 2000 – 2004 when this sin was so egregious that I was working 60 plus hours a week and raising a family with small children.

I would fall asleep in church. Just. About. Every. Time. I moved to the middle, I sat on the edge and over the years I have heard countless speakers and preachers denounce my behavior as sin. Surely it is right? I mean, who falls asleep when the ‘man of God’ is ‘proclaiming the Word of God’?

It had to be my hardened heart. Maybe I wasn’t saved. It’s quite possible that I was living in rebellion. Maybe I was afraid to ‘truly’ follow God. The short list here is just a few of the possibilities that I heard through the years – many of them during a particular time in my early 20’s.

Then we moved. And I still fell asleep at a different church. And we had new friends and one time after watching me doze off in the middle of a conversation she encouraged me to check my sugar. It was normal, but it started me down a path of discovery. A path of wondering why exactly this thing that was causing me to ‘sin’ was something that a medical professional thought might point to something else.

It was several years later that I stumbled across an article in the New York Times. In this article it talked about the latent effects of sugary drinks and heave-carbohydrate diets and how they could lead to drowsiness in certain people for up to several days after their consumption.

Well now. From 1996 – 2004 I existed upon a certain substance called Mountain Dew. I love to consume foods that are carb-centric. So I started learning and changing my diet and experimenting and lo and behold this awful sin problem that I had seemed to only appear in the days after I ate heavy carbs or drank a drink that had sugar.

From 2007 to 2017 my sin problem began to go away as my diet and consumption of PHYSICAL foods changed. Now it is rare that I drink anything that has a significant amount of sugar and if I know that I am going to be sitting for any period of time you won’t see me eating potatoes, or rice or anything else that puts me into sin sleep.  

And now I wonder. Why out of all those people that lambasted my falling asleep did no one ever care enough to ask about my physical health? And as a pastor who has watched people show up exhausted to church – and promptly fall asleep in the pew – why didn’t they care enough to be thankful that I was there?

Well I found the answer, and it wasn’t pretty. You see, I found the answer in my own behavior. How I respond when someone tells me I’m wrong. When someone refuses to see things my way. Yes, it was my ego – and it’s theirs as well.

So if you grew up in or live in a culture of religiosity that labels everything a sin and yet offers no solutions, just remember me. A kid who grew up in the church. Who read his Bible. Who knew every Bible story backwards and forwards. Remember that I wondered if I was truly saved and that I wondered if I was running from God simply because I was falling asleep in church and I was told I had a sin problem.

Then remember that one day someone told me to check my sugar. And then years later I read an article about how certain body types process food and over a decade or so I changed my food consumption. And now I don’t ‘sin’ in that way.

Published by Daniel M Harding

Husband, father, associate pastor.

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