It goes by many names: Coffee, tea, soda, latte, iced tea, energy drink, pop, and mocha, among others. What do they all have in common? Caffeine.
Otherwise known (jokingly) as ‘Christian Crack’, caffeine, it seems, is what makes the world go round. Or at least it helps make the Church go round. I hadn’t really thought about it before. What I now see is that a large percentage of the church is hooked on it. It is the most widely accepted drug in the U.S. and the preferred drug of American Christians.
I remember the days when I hated coffee. Really! I hated it! In fact, we were so poor way back in those days, that we didn’t really buy pop either. My only indulgence was sweet iced tea in the summer times… but even then, I didn’t make it more than once or twice a month. Then I started drinking soda on Wednesday nights at church. I taught a group of girls and I would get my pop and my night would be set.
Then I began to buy pop more regularly. And then we had it at the house, a lot. Things changed when I discovered granitas. These icy, sweet, coffee confections were sheer heaven on earth. I grew to LOVE them. I also began to drink vanilla coffee… you know, the sugary sweet vanilla stuff that comes in the huge box, all sweet and flavored, and you can add as many teaspoons to your hot water as you want to? Ohhhhh vanilllllaaaaa coffeeeee. Mmmmmm.
Gradually, through my intense sweet tooth, I became hooked on caffeine. As my weight climbed, I pinpointed my sweet coffee treats as a major cause, and I cut them out, almost completely. I switched back to tea, which was ‘safe’. Or so I thought.
Every year, our youth pastor at church asks the youth staff (that means me too) to give something up for 30 days. Many fast a meal a day, or media, and one man on our staff fasted sleep, by getting up at a set time in the middle of every night to spend time praying for our students. I didn’t feel like I had anything I needed to give up, but God had other ideas. A student, seeing me with my ever-present travel mug in my hand, asked me, “How much tea do you drink every day?” Gulp. Think, think, think.
“This is my fifth cup today,” I replied. FIVE 16-oz mugs of tea. Every day. That’s a lot of tea, and a whole LOT of caffeine. Did I mention that I never take my tea bag out? Yeah, I don’t. I like it strong, and sweet. Then I knew what the Lord wanted me to give up for the month.
“I’m going to fast drinks”, I told them at the staff meeting. They all looked at me weird. “All drinks, except water, and milk with meals,” I said. For thirty days, that is what I did. This picture is what my kitchen cabinet currently contains. Five boxes of tea. I took this picture when I started my fast. I haven’t touched them.
I’ll be transparent with you. The first ten days were hell. Headaches. Oh dear God my head hurt so bad. And I couldn’t wake up in the mornings! Seriously, I overslept so many of those days! I just couldn’t wake up enough to even get out of bed. I was a zombie for ten whole days. I was also, shall we say, a tad grouchy? My husband had other names for it which I won’t repeat here. Suffice it to say I wasn’t a joy to be around.
After the first ten days, it was much better. I started to feel good again. I got my energy back. I didn’t crave tea or coffee at all. (And remember, I run an espresso café in our youth group!) I drank water all day, every day, and it was fine. I had a good attitude again.
Day 30 came and went, and I decided that I didn’t want to go back to Christian Crack. As of today I am 50 days (almost) without caffeine. I had a single shot latte this morning in the café. But I think I don’t like them much any more. I drank half of it and then got a bottle of water out of the fridge.
I know it’s not your typical fast, but it was the type of fast God wanted from me. He is changing me, and I think I like it.