The Devil in a Piece of Pie

pie on serving platter

Waiting for a friend at a local coffee shop, I used my smartphone to read a portion of the first letter of John. God took the initiative to sit with me in that moment. My heart was deeply at peace. I was aware of a presence beyond myself. I was warmed by God loving me. I breathed deeply, looked out the window at freshly mown grass and marveled. I was glad my friend was late.

A table tent of incredible desserts caught my eye. Remembering that this restaurant gives free pie to customers who register online, and knowing I would meet friends here for the next eight weeks for a women’s faith-sharing group, I decided to register right then and there, using the same smartphone.

After several minutes of completing boxes and getting irritated by the slow website, I was assigned an account number. It ended in 666.

You may laugh as you hear that I thought of the book of Revelation and the identifier of the evil one. But I recognized gently that I’d been distracted from a beautiful moment with God by the lure of a free piece of pie.

I put the phone down as if it were hot. I desired to return to the moment with God, but I heard myself thinking, “You could get that piece of pie today.”

I have a disordered attachment to sweets. I know where every treat is in my house, from freezer to shelf. None of them are safe; their hours are numbered.

At the restaurant, I struggled to stay with the decision I had made the night before. I had planned to resist the sugar siren who tempts me to gluttonous behavior. I knew that when I’d given in to temptation in the past, promising myself I’d eat just one cookie, I would reopen the bag and gobble up several more.

It was not easy that day to skip ordering the pie, especially when I paid my bill, and the receipt reminded me that a free piece of pie was available and waiting.

Ignatius, how can you ask me to pray for release from this sweetness? How can you recommend that I ask for the grace to act against this temptation, and give the pie piece away? That restaurant makes this amazing peanut butter chocolate mousse pie.

I noticed the language surrounding my temptation as I reviewed my thoughts. And I grabbed my phone again. What was that line that drew me so close to God earlier?

“You belong to God…the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

No pie for me today. And I pray for the grace to want the grace that will detach me from pie and other sweets forever, that I may better embrace the sweetness of Christ.

About Loretta Pehanich 38 Articles
Loretta Pehanich is a spiritual director and author of Fleeting Moments: Praying When You Are Too Busy. She is involved with the Center for Ignatian Spirituality in Sacramento and its program in giving the Spiritual Exercises. She has more than 20 years of experience in ministry, including retreat work and small group leadership. Loretta currently works as a fundraiser in Sacramento. She and her husband have four children and nine grandchildren.

21 Comments on The Devil in a Piece of Pie

  1. Thank you for such an honest post. It’s not just sweets that are our stumbling blocks to God, but all other earthly addictions, distracting us from closeness to Him. I will definitely use the Ignatian prayer before the compulsion gets its grip.

  2. Thank you Loretta for such an honest, helpful article….and for giving us your example of how we can overcome in our own areas of struggle, bless you.

  3. Now I want a piece of pie!!! Seriously, though, my vice is potato chips. Can’t have just one, nor can I stop at one handful. I’ve noticed a tendency to munch them down when feeling stressed or deprived in other areas of my life so I believe it would be spiritually helpful for me to substitute a prayer or a scripture reading in place of a gloriously crinkly, salty flavourful bowl of chips (even though they are made of potatoes which are included in our food pyramid). Just one more, just a small slice, maybe tomorrow more self-control – the slippery slope always before us.

    • I laughed out loud at your reply, Jean. But I also appreciate greatly your idea to substitute a prayer. Nice to know a kindred spirit.

  4. I love this! I also know where every treat is…sweet or not. Grace to resist the temptation has not come my way yet. Maybe God doesn’t mind if I’m overweight as long as I stick close to him.

    • You are right: God loves us madly, and always. That love drives me to WANT to resist the sugar, which I sometimes substitute as a salve to some emotion.

  5. “How sweet it suddenly became for me
    To be without the sweetness of trifling things!
    And how glad I was to give up the things
    That I had been afraid to loose.
    For you cast them out…
    And entered into me to take their place.” St. Augustine

    I too struggle with the temptation of sweets, but try to remember that they cannot ever fill the “God shaped” hole I am trying to fill. Thanks for this story of grace.

  6. When I read this reflection, I was actually at the same coffee shop chain as the author. I had finished my cup of soup and half sandwich and was waiting for my piece of pie!! I too suffer from a sugar addiction that I have been trying to control for years. I thought to myself, wow, this really is too much of a coincidence, it really has to be God speaking to me. Thank you, Loretta, for your wonderful column and for providing me the opportunity to recognize
    my issue and God’s acting in my life.

  7. Such a beautiful openness & response to ur deepest self that desires freedom from disordered passion.
    I struggle with the same thing:/ I understood every word you wrote, identifying conpletely. Thanks for sharing this lovely story. God does give the Grace to meet our trials. Appecriate ur bearing witness to this truth that God is greater!! Sweeter too:) His words r like honey 🍯

  8. I read this commentary while I was waiting for my piece of pie to be delivered at this same coffee shop chain!😃🤭😏🤔. I also suffer from this same temptation to gluttony if anything sweet. What a sweet column that I hope will help me as well as the author.

  9. Loretta, a more appropriate read this morning did not exist (for me, anyway). On both counts we can learn so much to grow closer to God and more distant from the tightness of our belts. That “tightness” could also refer to our resistance to be still and listen. Thanks so much for another wonderful addition to this site.

  10. Thank you for the reflection. I’m glad I am not alone on this. Why do we let distraction (aka evil one) take us away from the time we spend with God?!

    • That is how it ALWAYS happens: when I choose the night before on a course of action, for example no chocolate, the very next day I get offered brownies, candies, and fudge cake. No joke!
      This is no ordinary battle. St. Ignatius remindes us in the rules for discernment that the enemy of our better self knows our weak point, and aims to exploit it.

  11. I loved and was inspired by Today’s thoughful reflection by Loretta Pehanich. It was a gentle reminder of my own savory addiction to Dove Chocolates and the sweet, kind sayings in each wrapper. I too, plan on just having two dark melt-in-your-mouth chocolates, when I find myself opening the bag and unwrapping 5 or 6 more. Whose counting?. The wonderful moment in Today of offering up my sweets to my sweet, precious Lord and giving thanks for my wonderful life I have today because his sacrificing His life for our life is all the desert I need. Thank you Jesus! P.S. Today I will sacrifice the Dove Chocolates for a reading of the Glorious Mysteries! How blessed we ALL are with the sweet mavelous majesty of God’s Grace, His Son Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour!

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