“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” 1 Corinthians 6:12
Coffee has been a part of my life for a long time, a small enjoyment that would especially brighten my morning, but also a drink that I enjoyed throughout the day. I LOVED it. But my relationship with coffee was not all peachy. I’ve never been good at moderation, and I began to want my coffee stronger and stronger, and more of it. Throughout the past 25 years or so I would go through a cycle of getting to the point where I recognized that it was too much, quitting for a while, and then starting the cycle over. I’d always start drinking it weak, but I’d want it strong and stronger, and more of it, as time went by.
I wouldn’t admit it, but the truth is that I was being brought under its power. I had a difficult time operating without coffee, yet I also found that it was terribly unreliable at providing me with the energy I need to function throughout my day. I found myself getting tired everyday. I found myself exhausted, especially in my mind, every night. My coffee habit had power of me–it was affecting my ability to function well, it was hindering my ability to operate at peak performance. But, of course, I did not want to recognize this. I loved coffee. I didn’t want to give it up.
As much as I hate to admit it, I know that God has been dealing with me about kicking my coffee habit for a long time. I’ve done it a few times before on a temporary basis. Yet I always went back–like I said, repeating the cycle. But recently I found myself with chronically low energy. In a time of prayer, coffee again came to my mind. I dismissed it, saying, “It’s not a big deal! It’s just coffee.” But another thought came right after, saying, “If it’s not a big deal, then just quit.” That second thought brought the full truth of the matter upon my mind: it was a big deal. Coffee was something that I really loved–and I was addicted to it–I didn’t want to give it up.
That moment I began to wrestle within myself, and as foolish as this might sound to some, I was having a really, REALLY hard time with the idea of not having coffee in my life. I knew I needed to give it up, but it was one of the joys of my life, a small pleasure that I looked forward to everyday. Yet on the other hand, I also knew that it was destroying my energy levels. It was a poison that I was putting into my body. My body needed rest to expel it. And the amount that I ingested apparently put my body in a state were it needed a lot of rest–more than I was willing to give it. At that moment I knew it was the right thing to do to give up coffee, but there was a war in my mind and body. I would guess that 90% of me wanted to keep coffee in my life, and only 10% wanted it gone. Yet I knew that the 10% of me was right. And with a great effort of the will, and with the displeasure of 90% of my being, I made the decision to quit coffee for one year. I called a curse upon myself if I so much as taste it for one year. And I went to my journal and wrote that down, so that later when my mind would try to say that I never made such a vow I could go back and read it.
I haven’t eliminated caffeine completely out of my life. I drink green tea now, which has substantially less caffeine than coffee. But even with the caffeine from the green tea, I still suffered for the first three days after I quit. I had headaches and was very tired. But I powered through it and the results were life changing. Let me say it again. The results were LIFE CHANGING. It took a bit over a weak for me to fully recover, but exactly eight days after I quit I wrote this in my journal:
I’d be a fool to go back to coffee. This morning I woke up around 6 and I feel so much better than I’ve felt waking up before. I’d be a fool to go back to coffee at all. I’d be an absolute fool. Lord, I pray, keep me from foolish things and let my heart be wise before you!
My mind is no longer heavy, I no longer wish for a nap in the middle of the day. I am able to operate longer into the night and require less sleep. I am literally reclaiming lost time. I’m ‘redeeming the time, because the days are evil.’
In fact, regaining energy and focus has not been the only time redeemer from quitting coffee: I don’t have to urinate near as much! This has been especially helpful to me since I spend a lot of my time outdoors where no bathrooms are readily available. I use the bathroom much, much less now, I feel great, my mind is clear, my energy levels are higher than I can ever remember. This lawful thing that I consumed was not helpful for me. I’m rid of it now, and I’d be a fool to bring it back.
And the best and most unexpected thing about all this is that I don’t even miss it. It’s been over 20 days and I have no desire for it anymore. Just three weeks ago I couldn’t image life without it, yet now it’s a distant memory. I kick myself for not having done this sooner.
What about you? It may be coffee for you, as well. Or perhaps it is some other substance. Perhaps you can’t imagine life without tobacco or some drug or certain foods. Perhaps eating too much or unhealthily is your vice. Whatever it is, if it has power of you it has to go. If it is affecting your usefulness, it has to go. With God’s help, you can do it. You won’t regret the hard choice. I promise you that.