A young man in India was suffering from health problems due to his love for sweets and sugar. His mother tried everything she knew to change his eating habits, but he could not, or would not, change. It seemed that the more she got after him, the worse his problem
Finally, at a loss for how to help him, she took him to see Gandhi, whom she knew her son admired. “Mahatma,” she said, upon reaching him, “my son is in ill health because of his love for sugar. Could you please tell him to stop eating sugar? Perhaps he would listen to you.”
Gandhi paused for a moment, thinking. Then he looked at the woman and said, “Madame, bring your son back in three weeks. Then I will speak with him.”
Three weeks later, the mother again traveled with her son to see Gandhi, whereupon he told the boy to stop eating sugar. “Why did we have to wait three weeks for that?” the mother asked, before leaving.
“Madame,” Gandhi responded, “three weeks ago, I was still eating sugar.”
I heard that story read last week in a class I’m taking. After we heard the story our teacher asked the class, “Where are you still eating sugar?”
And of course I immediately thought of the gummy fish, and licorice sticks that I love to gnaw on. But I also understood that Gandhi—and my teacher—was talking about something more than sucrose consumption.
This week I’m thinking a lot about sponsorship. I love having a sponsor and there hasn’t been much time in my years of recovery that I’ve gone without one. But again and again I have lapsed in being a sponsor. This week I am reminded why it’s really important to both have a sponsor and be a sponsor.
And it has a lot to do with Gandhi’s wisdom and the question: Where are you still eating sugar?
I have two sponsees right now and as they talk to me about their experiences as recovering women I do feel like I have a lot to share. I work at my recovery, love step work and I’m committed. But I was brought up short (sugar) twice this week by the advice I heard myself offer the women I sponsor.
In one case I was explaining the importance of Step Ten and actually doing a tenth step. Using pen and paper and writing a mini inventory at night—“We write…” I quoted, yeah, it says, “we write…” As a spiritual director I know that this practice we call Step Ten comes
So I was going on and on with that sponsee and suggesting a few short questions she might journal about each night, and after I got off the phone I thought, “Whoa—do I do what I am telling her to do?” And the answer was “not really.” So, I needed to start doing a nightly Step Ten both for my recovery and to have some integrity as a sponsor.
With another sponsee, I was talking about relationships with coworkers and trying to see each person as a person, how to be both caring and detached—to find that royal balance: care about the person but detach from, “Do they like me?” and “Is she wrong?” and I heard myself advise, “You have to pray for your coworkers.”
Yep, again I looked at my emotional self and I had “sugar” all over me. I knew I needed to pray for my colleagues.
Maybe I would have gotten there through reading recovery literature, or I might have heard those good suggestions in a meeting. But being a sponsor holds up a great big mirror and asks me, “Are you still eating sugar?”