I love coffee. Okay maybe that is an understatement because I was truly addicted to coffee. I enjoyed having a cup of coffee when I needed a pick me up to get me through long days at work, when I wanted to start my day off “right,” when I wanted to treat myself for getting through something difficult…the list goes on and on.
Do you see any trends? I see two. One – my undeniable physical addiction to coffee (obviously). Two – my continual focus on fulfilling the desire of “I.”
Drinking coffee has become quite habitual for me since I was in college. I would wake up and have a cup of coffee to keep me awake and focused during class. Drinking coffee also became a social activity. I enjoyed the comfort of speaking with friends or reading a book over a hot cup of freshly brewed coffee. But soon a simple pleasure became a necessity. After college and when I started working, I started drinking up to 10 or 12 cups a day! I wanted to remain on my A-game from 4:30 AM until 11:45 PM so that required me to stay awake and focused, well at least as much as I could be with a temporary stimulus from the caffeine. My demanding work requirements and lifestyle undoubtedly started taking a toll on my health. I became very irritable, had to practically starve myself to keep the “belly fat” off, and was also tired.
This downward spiral continued until a few months ago. Early in December of 2017 I started having dizzy spells. I went to the doctor a few times and I was told that there was nothing they could do for me. I didn’t want to be on medications so I decided to try an elimination diet. After turning to Google for answers I figured I should start by evaluating my sugar and caffeine intake. Sugar was easy. I eat quite well already – lean meats, few (if any) refined carbs, no dairy, lots of vegetables, and a sufficient amount of fresh fruit. So I tried stopping sugar all together. Nope that wasn’t it. I kept trying to delay giving up my sweet love of coffee. But now it was time to face the music. The thing I loved the most I had to give up. I would tell myself excuses like, “well you’ve gone days with minimal water before without getting dizzy…maybe it’s just your hydration levels” or “just try scaling down your coffee to 4 cups a day.”
Days became weeks and the dizziness continued to occur at random times. Finally God gave me a sign to WAKE UP! It was lent. I made the choice to give up coffee for lent. I don’t explain this to you to gain sympathy but to encourage others. I was very hesitant to give up coffee. I made up reasons why I shouldn’t give up coffee…they mostly were “I”-centric reasons, like getting through exams during graduate school or needing energy when I am traveling. But something in the back of my mind said, “It will be okay. Trust me.”
So the lenten season commenced with giving up coffee and diving head-first into placing my trust in God. Now as Lent comes to an end I am surprised at how much I have learned about my ability to uphold a promise to God and renewed faith. I promised myself that whenever I felt tired or looking for a cup of coffee that I would stop and pray to Him, asking for his strength and guidance. I always though about 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” God gave me the choice to uphold my promise and to use his strength. I acknowledged that I could not, like every other part of my life, do this alone. For He is great!
Okay so what if you are not Christian or believe in the Christian God, how does this apply to you? Same principle applies! To maintain a clear and open mind we must be willing to rid ourselves of those things that hold as back. For me it was coffee, maybe for you it is an obsession with working out or reliance on work to uphold a falsely made identity. Whatever it is I challenge you to break yourself from those chains. It will be scary and it will be uncomfortable. But understanding your strengths and weaknesses allows you to better interact with those around you and to see the environment in which you are a part of in a new light.
Now I will most likely have coffee against once Easter comes…but, by God’s will, I will stop focusing so much on my needs and wants and start thinking more about others and about God Almighty.