Candy is bad for you. All moms know that.
So when my kids begged for Dum Dums after breakfast last week? I grabbed our entire stash of various stored and leftover candy—a gallon Ziploc bag full—and hurled it straight into the kitchen trash bin.
Not because we’re cutting out sugar. Obviously, any mother who hoards a sack of candy in the first place is a pushover for moderation. Plus I like to snitch a mini Snickers every once in a while.
In our house, though, candy has become bad for the soul.
“Mom, can I have these?” My five-year-old pinched a pack of Smarties between her thumb and forefinger and flashed a pleading smile.
“No, it’s too early for candy.”
“But I ate both of my pancakes!”
“I’m so glad. We don’t eat candy at breakfast time. Put it away.”
“Mom?” My eight-year-old skipped into the kitchen holding a sucker in her hand. “Can I have this? I ate a really good breakfast.”
“No! Where did you girls get the idea that you can eat candy before school?”
“You always let us have candy after we eat our healthy food!”
“At dinnertime, sweetheart. This is breakfast. I’m not sending you off to school with candy in your system. It’s too early for sweets.”
I’ll spare you the gruesome details, but in a nutshell what followed was a snit of classic proportions—complete with stomping feet, slamming doors, and a few grumpy words tossed in my direction.
Over what? A couple suckers and a candy roll. Ridiculous.
In that moment, though, I realized those sweets had become something greater. Something far more damaging than sugar and red dye #40.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).
What seizes your child’s attention and adoration? Is there any THING—an object, activity, mindset or goal—that causes your sons and daughters to risk relationships with people, obedience to God, and their very own well-being?
Let’s call it what it is. The Bible says anything that competes with God and causes us to throw his commands out the window is nothing more than a worthless idol, a weak replacement for the rightful focal point of our worship.
My daughter wanted that candy so much, she was willing to break God’s commandment—honor your mother and father (Exodus 20:12)—in order to fight for it. Not to mention a long list of other biblical principles, like “be kind” and “demonstrate self-control” and “Thou shalt not beg, whine, or bicker before Mommy chugs her morning swig of orange juice and anxiety meds.” Okay, that one’s not really in the Bible—but I think we all agree it should be.
The point is, I did what I had to do.
I tossed the candy—in order to prove to my kids that nothing (especially Dum Dums, hello) is worth compromising their souls.
“Dear children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21).
After my daughter reclaimed her senses, I knelt to eye level and launched a heart-to-heart lesson.
“Do you realize what happened here, sweetheart? God tells you to honor your parents and to show love. Yet your candy was more important than being kind to me. It was more important than obeying God. So what does that mean? What did you let your candy become?”
She cast her eyes to floor and spoke softly. “An idol.”
My girl knows her Bible.
And yes, sometimes she chooses to blow it off anyway.
Just like her mother. Sound familiar? Praise God for his grace.
“Hey,” I squeezed my daughter’s hand. “I have a secret handshake for us.” She looked up and smiled. I stretched my index finger onto her wrist and tapped each syllable of our now favorite code message.
“I love you more than candy.”
She tapped it back and giggled. Now each day, on the road to school or after I’ve tucked her into bed at night, she reaches for my hand and taps. The message applies to whatever idol we’re tackling that day, for example, “I love you more than Pinterest” works just as well. So does “I love you more than TV” and “I love you more than Cheetos.” Regardless of your vice, the meaning is the same.
I love you more than idols.
Our daily reminder to put God first.
It’s sweeter than all the Smarties a gallon bag can hold.