Growing Up Christian
I’ve been a Christian since I was a preteen. I’ve gone to Catholic school, Christian school and an all women’s school (oh wait… that’s different). I’ve been to retreats and revivals and conferences. I’ve led bible studies with Christians. I’ve looked into the eyes of someone who realizes suddenly that she needs Jesus in her life. I’ve been on missions trips to other countries, and service projects just down the block from my childhood home.
I know what the Bible says, so I hear the arrogance clearly in what I’m going to say next.
But I don’t need God. I guess I do theoretically, biblically, and realistically but I don’t think about it. I don’t feel it on a daily basis.
My Real Needs
I’ll tell you what I need on a daily basis. Deny me these to put me in a bad mood within the hour: respect from my colleagues and supervisors; attention and understanding from my husband; a very consistent and dependable source of food and snacks; the clothes that I like wearing; the apps and websites I like browsing. And coffee at least once a day if not more (but in reality, it’s always more!)
Honestly, none of these things are ever denied to me. I pretty much get what I want all the time. You may not think of me as a spoiled brat because compared to many I’m not, but for the most part… I have everything I’ve ever wanted. Isn’t that what a spoiled brat is??
I didn’t observe Lent routinely growing up. I have clear memories from Catholic school which I recount HERE but it was never something I payed attention to. However, a few years ago, something about it caught my attention. There’s something about the traditional phrase spoken at the start (Ash Wednesday) that gives me so much peace. “From dust we came and to dust we shall return.”
Related Post: To Lent Or Not To Lent (Observing for the First Time)
It’s a reminder of my humanity. It’s nothing to fight. It can’t be argued. For now, I am living and breathing. But I came from a bundle of cells and matter. In the (hopefully distant) future, my body will become lifeless and start to decay. Back to dust I’ll go. I’m not superhuman. I have no way to prevent my dusty destiny.
What do I truly love?
When the conversation turned towards the traditional fast for Lent, I immediately knew in my spirit what I needed to give up.
When coffee comes up in conversation, I will make sure everyone knows how I feel for this bittersweet drink. I love it. The smell, the taste, the sound of it being made. I love looking through a clear glass mug at it’s murky depths. I love the magical display when you tip milk in as it swirls and floats together.
I wake up with thoughts of how soon I can have coffee. I look forward to any time I can indulge in it. There is no time when I’ll deny it.
It almost sounds like I worship coffee. It sounds sacrilege to admit, but in my thoughts I knew the truth. There’s nothing wrong with loving, or even obsessing, over coffee. However, it painted a sad picture of how mediocre my feelings were towards God.
The Next step was clear
I decided to give up coffee for Lent. It hasn’t been that hard surprisingly, but I’ve been amazed at how it’s affected my thoughts.
I decided to avoid coffee every day except Sunday. I wasn’t abstaining from caffeine, so tea was ok. Sundays are my “feast” day and I drink whatever I want.
Every morning I wake up and my mind goes straight where it always goes: that hot, stimulating coffee. I allow myself a few seconds to think about how much I want it, then I remind myself of a few facts.
Ivanna, do you feel that craving? You don’t need that and you never will. It might give you a bit of pleasure and energy for now, but it won’t actually change how much sleep you got last night. Oh, and do you ever have that craving for God, the one who has given you all good things and loves you unconditionally? You don’t feel like you need God, but you do. That thirst for coffee every morning is fine, but while you’re fasting from coffee, let that thirst remind you that only Jesus can quench it. He deserves more attention than you give to your precious bean-juice.
This season of Lent has made me painfully aware of how human I am. My thirst, hunger, and cravings are real, but they don’t always help me. I crave more than the sweet, strong taste of the coffee; I also want to feel awake, alive, and ready to conquer anything. Coffee can never deliver the way I need it to.
Jesus promises me something that sounds too good to be true, too beautiful, too intimate, and too easy. I know he’s good, he loves me, and he’s working out my life for my benefit because of that. I know he deserves my highest admiration, fullest trust, and constant dependence on him.
If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living waters. John 7:37-38
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