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 NeedsThere's something about the mantra on Ash Wednesday that I find beautiful and peace-giving; "From dust we came and to dust we will return." Provocative Joy

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.

Why I Gave Up Coffee for Lent; how it made me thirsty for God; Provocative Joy
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.

Related Post: 5 Tools for Lent

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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Why I Gave Up Coffee for Lent; how it made me thirsty for God; Provocative Joy

18 comments on “Why I Gave Up Coffee For Lent”

  1. Beautiful! Pinning to our group board on !Inspiring Poems and Stories. Tweeting as well. May God help us not to turn anything or anyone into an idol in our lives in Jesus’ name.

  2. i’m reading your post, cup of strong brew by my side… many people often talk about ‘giving up’ things for lent, and there’s not much difference between giving up and the term ‘fasting’… except that in the way gray is not grey, giving up is somehow different than fasting. i don’t mean to make the difference polemical, but somehow my spiritual practice seems more enhanced when i fast than when i give up…

    • I agree with you, but for some reason I still don’t like the way “fasting” sounds. Such a religious word. Except break-fast. Now that is a word I can get excited about.

  3. Yes! This is a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing your heart. This year is the first time in a while that I couldn’t figure out how to fast to achieve the feeling you described. “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.” Coffee didn’t even cross my mind! Maybe next year. 😉

    • Thank you Mabel! What have you fasted in previous years? I can’t usually think of something myself. This year was the exception.

  4. It’s so funny that I’m reading this. I don’t celebrate Lent (mainly because I can’t ever remember dates correctly), but it just occurred to me that there are a lot of Christians who talk about coffee with more reverence than God. “Coffee gets me through the day.” “Everything will be fine, as soon as I have coffee.”

    I’m glad to see that somebody else had some similar thoughts to me.

    • I’d have to agree with you because I’m one of them! Well, I was… I’m grateful for a different perspective now.

  5. This is such a great post! It sounds like you really put thought into finding something that is a real sacrifice. Good luck! You’re almost done!

  6. I love coffee just as much as you! I also kind of gave it up in a way. I’m on a diet and decided to just drink black coffee. Yuck! I extremely dislike black coffee, I love the creamer and sugar that add to the taste of my usual cup of coffee. For a week now i’ve been drinking black coffee and I have grown accustome to it. But I can’t wait until my diet is over and i can finally have a nice GOOD cup of coffee 🙂 Great post btw!!!

    • Thank you Rosey!! I think I could enjoy black coffee if it was high quality beans every time. Do you notice a difference in taste when you try different beans? Good job on the diet and thanks for stopping by!

  7. “let that thirst remind you that only Jesus can quench it.” I love these words. I think people get lent wrong they do the sacrifice part without the heart part. The absence of what we are abstaining from is supposed to remind us to seek Jesus. I must admit that I have not given up for lent as much as taken on an intense quiet time schedule that starts an hour before my kiddos get up. I hate to admit that sometimes the cup of coffee is more motivation to get up than time in the word BUT the more Im in the word the more I feel completely off when I am not. The more time I spend the more I crave. LOVE this post. Perhaps we can be blogging friends?

  8. I love this article. Makes me re-think a lot of things that I do. Thank you for this.

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