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Breaking Up with Joe

Three months ago, I drank what could’ve been my last cup of coffee.  After a very sluggish and unmotivated winter, I felt a little like I was in a spiritual haze. A lot of things I cared about felt like too much trouble. I was tired much of the time, not sleeping through the night, not caring as much about what I ate. My inner activist wondered often why it was worth the pain to do anything hard. Whenever I went to drink my coffee, I had a nagging conviction that it wasn’t helping me, and that coffee/caffeine could have actually been a big part of my problem. Unfortunately, it was never a good day to experiment with that conviction, even though my reasons were growing…

  1. I felt more dehydrated when I drank coffee.

  2. I didn’t have much energy; I could tell my adrenal functions were low.

  3. The caffeine threw off my blood sugar balance and made me crave sweets or crash in the afternoon.

  4. Even though I only drank 1 cup a day, I mentally craved coffee over food.

  5. I wasn't sleeping through the night as well as I knew was possible.

  6. It bothered me to be dependent on something to feel complete that wasn’t adding to my physical health.

  7. Drinking coffee to fix the problem of being tired meant I wasn’t solving the problem of why I was tired.  It was just forcing my body to keep going.  

Even with all the evidence stacked up, I would daily talk myself out of the possibility that part or all of the winning solution was found in not drinking coffee.  OH, HOW I WANTED IT TO NOT BE TRUE!!

I was not a newbie to quitting something. I quit smoking cold-turkey when I was in college, a promise I spontaneously declared to God as I stepped off the shuttle bus one day. I have also gone off sugar many times, at one time for a few years in a row. I have never heard God talk to me so clearly as He did in those years (all of that happened before I even started drinking coffee.) The fruit of both of those decisions beckoned me to try again, and this time with coffee. But dang, I don't know if you've noticed, coffee is currently the hub of all cultural activity. It's everywhere! 

Just a few weeks before, the opportunity to blog came my way. I knew the writing process was going to require more from me than I could muster in my current state. This simple opportunity held a promise for me that there was more to come. Over the past 15 years of being a mom of 5 beautiful kids, I have grown in so many ways, but now there was something more that needed to be tapped into, another part of me. It was enough to entice me into a little necessary pain.

I picked the day to quit when my husband left for a 12-day work trip. Watching him drink coffee in those first few days would've ensured failure and having those first 12 days without him offering me a sip of his crafted cup were going to be a huge advantage. Thank goodness he usually makes his at work! BUT, even with my husband gone for those first two weeks, it was a challenge! The following picture best describes what it feels like to resist coffee in our current day.



I cried in little spurts each day for week or two when I thought about what I was missing. Not like a ‘the world is ending’ weep, but more of a childlike weep. If I sucked my thumb, this would’ve been the appropriate time. I just let myself feel whatever feelings were attached to this need not being met that coffee had somehow filled, and then kept going on with my day. I was kind of shocked at the depth of the emotional withdrawal. So much of my morning happiness was centered around this one thing! Would I always have to use every ounce of willpower to continue in this quest? I recall one Sunday morning, while in worship, tears trickled down my face, not because I was moved by the Spirit, but because I was painfully aware that one of my favorite local craft coffee places had a mobile trailer set up outside the church.

Fortunately, this level of emotional fortitude did wear off, and by the time 3 weeks had gone by, I wasn't thinking about it much. In fact, I was sleeping more soundly, and got my morning appetite back. My energy levels were more stable. I felt more at peace with myself, knowing I was being proactive on my own behalf. My husband always says good decisions are addicting. It's true. I felt powerful again, not because coffee was this evil force in my life, but because...momentum creates momentum… and fruit creates more fruit. The best part though, was that this act of faith left me in a place of need, a space where I was aware that I needed God. It's really easy to cover that up  with all that we have available! Something in my spirit opened up and I found it easier to talk to Him again. I started feeling more alive again! I can't say if the shift was originally more physiological or spiritual (connected as they are) but either way, one lead to the other and the leap was worth it.

Let me preface that this post isn’t intended to judge or denounce coffee drinking! (I will still enjoy the smell and ambiance..and occasionally have a well-made decaf.) It's more about understanding restraint and boundaries in the context of this abundance we live in. It's about the beauty of walking that very personal "narrow road that leads to life." If someone is planting a field, they don’t just pack in every seedling they can into their land. There is intention and planning to be able to yield beautiful, nutrient-filled fruit in a field, and in our lives. This is what quitting coffee was about for ME. Working toward an abundant life won’t always be about restriction, quitting something or going without. Sometimes it's a call to add, to risk, to dream. If God has been talking to you about something, there's a grace accessible to make that leap (or at least start with the first step). There is most likely a desirable fruit and abundant harvest for your life on the other side--one so wonderful it will be totally worth it!




Lauren Allen1 Comment