There’s a cookie on the table. It’s a kind you've never tried before, a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie with tiny bits of raspberry mixed in. Momma said she baked it for you, just because she loves you, but you can’t have it until after dinner.
But it looks so good! You gaze longingly at the cookie. You want it. It’s not wrong to want it; after all, it’s for you. It was created and brought to your attention for the express purpose of your enjoyment. You have only to wait.
But waiting is the hardest thing you've ever faced in your young life. Look, on that commercial! That kid is eating a cookie in the middle of the day. And you are pretty sure that was a cookie crumb that Mommy just brushed off of Daddy's chin. No fair! Why are the rules different for him?
You pull the cookie a little closer so you can inhale its sweet aroma. Swallowing hard, you clench your fists and ask your mom how long until dinner. She assures you it won’t be long now and asks you to wait patiently. A slow nod is the only response you can muster.
You glance back to make sure no one is looking. Coast clear, you reach out a tentative finger and just touch the edge of your future treat. It will be yours! And nobody said not to touch. But the touch becomes a caress which causes a crumb to fall to the formica. Uh, oh.
There it is. It’s calling you. You know it would be so yummy. And it’s only a itty bit, just enough to taste! Surely that would be okay, right?
As you give the tidbit a quick flick with your fingertip, your waiting tongue reaches for it. The two magically meld and your mouth is suffused with the long-awaited (it seems to you) pleasure. Okay, that’s all. You tasted and you know it’s going to be great! You can wait now.
But within moments, your hand is on its way back to caress your intended. Another morsel won’t hurt. When nothing significant presents itself, you scratch a bit. Come on, just a little more?
You are rewarded to find that your finger has accumulated some of the gooey stuff of your cookie under its nail. You bring it to your nose, inhaling deeply before taking it between your lips. As you suckle the digit, your tongue lightly scrapes the tip and savors the tangy, sweet goodness.
Then you scratch again. And again. You aren’t eating the cookie, exactly. You’re only tasting it. She didn’t say don’t taste it. It’s just to hold you over, to help you wait.
But how can you wait? That’s the most delicious thing you’ve ever experienced and it's staring you right in the face. It’s offering itself to you and she said it was yours. She even told you where it waited, put it within your grasp! How could you not be drawn there? How could you not nudge it to the table edge and nibble, like this?
Oh, no! Now you’ve done it. There is the evidence, the mark of your indiscretion marring the cookie’s former perfection. There’s no hiding it and now you may lose your sweet. What if it gets taken from you for your disobedience?
There is no time to waste! The whole cookie is chewed and swallowed with narry a drop of cold milk to wash it down. Its sweetness now seems sickly, as you slink from the table leaving a small scattering of crumbles where once a tantalizing wonder lay.
You feel guilty, because you are guilty. Your mom gave you that cookie as a special gift, intending for you to enjoy it when she said the time was right. But you took matters (and the cookie) into your own hand and decided your own timetable. Now your appetite is ruined and your blessing is no more.
Were you wrong to anticipate? No. Would you have sinned to imagine eating the cookie? Of course not. Nor would it have been wrong to enjoy it fully at its appointed time. But you were tempted by your desire to touch, then to taste, then to devour. And now your first white chocolate raspberry macadamia nut cookie is gone and you have nothing but a knot in the pit of your stomach where there should have been satisfaction.
Because you know the timing was off. It wasn’t dessert time yet.
You run to Mommy, crying. Sorry. You’ll never do it again. You ask her to not show you the cookie until it’s time to eat it.
But your mom won’t always protect you from yourself. She will help you practice internal fortitude. You’ll know where the cookies are and you will have to choose to avoid them or feel this dissatisfaction and even self-disgust.
After dinner, when the time is right, when you are full of the everyday goodness of meat and vegetables, that's when you can enjoy your cookie with your family and not in secret. And the next night, maybe you'll have chocolate chip. Or a snickerdoodle. Hmmm, the flavor possibilities are endless...