It began so innocently really. An evening spent with a girlfriend. Two paper cups filled with a seemingly harmless, albeit tarter than anticipated plain frozen yogurt called Pinkberry. We casually consumed the non-fat dessert over an hour of Survivor China. I actually started to get a bit bloated so I put the remaining portion of my non-fat treat in the freezer. Yet what happened in the coming days seems a bit surreal and altogether ridiculous from my now enlightened vantage point.
For the sake of full disclosure, I had been warned going into this evening. My friend with whom I’d indulged with that night was already a self-proclaimed addict to this eighties-revived (and slightly tweaked) frozen concoction known by some as frozen yogurt. Whether or not Pinkberry is actually yogurt is still up for grabs. To be clear, we’re not talking TCBY here folks. This latest craze is the streamlined modern-décor meets simplistic tart-tasting version whose traceable roots are nestled in New York and Los Angeles … by way of South Korea. There is large debate over which of these boutique companies are bona fide in their branding and in their product and which are simply knock-offs serving frozen who-knows-what (except affirmatively void of the live bacteria required to authenticate its categorization as yogurt). Countless journalists have weighed in on the subject. There is even a pending lawsuit against one such operation related to the aforementioned rumblings.
Plainly stated, the version we consumed that Thursday night was procured at a gas station – clearly not the real thing, although mostly accurate from a palate standpoint. To date, it is the only place in Ventura to get it. The signage inside boasts of the many health benefits of consuming their brand; intestinal wellness, strong bones, lean bodies. Call it third grade discernment, but my sense is that there exists a bit of rift between gas station convenience stores and healthy living. Maybe that’s all changing, I’m really not sure.
Regardless, I headed home from my friend’s house that night – leftover yogurt in hand. I stuck it in the freezer and proceeded to bed without another thought on the subject of frozen desserts. Yet by morning, something had changed. When I woke up I began thinking about last night’s treat, its tart yet subtly sweet flavor. That stuff really was better than I’d initially thought, and its fat-free quality only increased its overall appeal. I was relieved to remember that there were a couple ounces remaining in the freezer. It seemed the natural option for breakfast. By lunch, thoughts of white frozen swirl were once again top of mind. I kept them at bay by reminding myself that it somehow seemed a bit cruel to usher my dairy-allergic daughter down to the gas station to get myself a delicious-looking treat that she herselfcould not consume.
Well friends, I’m embarrassed to tell you itwas a week of utter mental, emotional and dietary consumption of this seemingly benign product. In quiet moments, I’d steal away to the Internet, resonating with the claims of its addictive nature and reveling in all of the journalistic drama surrounding this incoming fad. I endured the uncomfortably flirtatious foreign gas station owner who repeatedly stated I like your face… I like all of you, as he pumped my portion of the day. Ilocated the closest storefront of the real thing and opportunistically attached a stop-off with an already planned family event. And in all truthfulness, the storefront was everything I dreamed it to be. Clean lines, pebble floors, simplistic menu. It was amazing! And I told people. No sooner had I acquired a small cup of original with fresh mangos on top, I was calling the very friend who first introduced me to this vice to proclaim that I’d arrived at the mother ship. She was thrilled, both for me and for all of her other friends who would now be so excited to know that Pinkberry was now within a thirty mile radius of our homes.
Come Sunday I shifted strategies with my gas station location. I cut my own fresh fruit before leaving home (as theirs proved a bit mushy) and then asked my husband very kindly if he’d be so noble as to procure the yogurt so that I wouldn’t have to endure the inappropriate comments that accompanied my six ounce frozen snack. He kindly complied and off to church we sailed, yogurt and strawberries in hand.
As I sat satiated and a little cold in my pew we entered worship with some singing – business as usual for all intents and purposes. Nothing could have been further from my mind at that juncture than that my past-weeks obsession was about to be turned on its head. No, Reed never forthrightly addressed all yogurt addicts in the sanctuary to repent and come forward for prayer during communion. Yet about half way through the service, something significant did take place for me. Rodney Suddith from Sports Outreach International was invited to come up and share some of what has been taking place with the ministry he and others so selflessly serve under in Uganda. He painted vivid pictures of both hope and raw heartache from this region. He left off with a particularly wrenching account involving a group of women who made sure that their AIDS stricken friend had a bed to die in. It happened to be the rainy season there. Until they arrived (bed in tow), she lay on her muddy linoleum – surrounded by her children. She died the following day.
In an instant, my satisfied state transformed into one of sheer foolishness. As a first-world dweller, I realized immediately that once again, I’d been duped into believing that things like the pursuit of perfect-tasting frozen yogurt was a valid use of my time. The visual that came to mind was that of Satan reclining in a lounge chair, Strawberry Margarita in hand. When my interests turn to the inconsequential, his job remains simple. There becomes no need for active intervention on my behalf. He has me exactly where he wants me – caught in the frenzy of nonsense.
It is not as though I set out to achieve this end. It really did begin as innocently as I said. Yet somewhere between consuming my first bite and delving into strategic models in order to obtain more, I had swirled out of control. On one level I realize this sounds ridiculous. It’s yogurt, not heroin, for crying out loud. Still, what my behavior ultimately amounted to was that of a distracted soul.
Countless individuals in this world we share survive on so little. You’ve heard the cliché …there are starving kids in Africa. Yet if the truth be known, for too many of us, that’s all it is – a cliché that almost mockingly finds its way into conversations in order to somehow acknowledge the uncomfortable and paralyzing contrast between our own dwellings in the frivolities and their stark state. While I wouldn’t go as far as to say that my tinkering and since recovery in the world of Pinkberry has somehow bridged this chasm for me entirely, it has reminded me of my blatant humanity and my propensity toward veering off course at a moment’s notice. Thankfully, I am also reminded through the story of those women and others Rodney spoke of that we serve a gracious and compassionate God who cares deeply about all of our souls and all of our paths toward redemption.