It began with a simple question: “So what're you giving up for Lent?” my friend Chad asked of our couples group from our church.
Most of us fidgeted uneasily, myself included. Some shared profound insights on the discipline of fasting, while others admitted they weren't sure if they were giving up anything. When it was my turn, the silliest words imaginable escaped my mouth:
“I'm giving up coffee.”
I love coffee. Ever since a semester in Spain, I've had a lustful love affair with that dark drink. Several years later, it's not uncommon for me to have two full carafes of Fresh-pressed dark roast every morning.
I need my coffee.
In an instant, though, I decided to give it up. Not for a day or a week or even a month, but 40 whole days. My goodness, what was I thinking?
Why I'm quitting coffee
I've been telling people this is probably “the dumbest thing I could do.” But I'm sticking to it — and here's why:
- Because I don't like being controlled by anything. Caffeine is a drug. It just is. And the fact that I need this drug every morning in order to feel normal — or I get a headache — is not okay with me. So I'm kicking the habit to cleanse myself from my unhealthy dependence on this delicious nectar of the gods (I'm doing this with a little reluctance).
- Because fasting can be a spiritual practice. By giving up something I think I need, I'm drawn to pray and reflect more, to consider what's truly important and open myself up to what God might be saying to me.
- Because one in nine people don't have access to clean drinking water. Which is something I take for granted and even consider a “boring” beverage to consume. So it's time for me to better appreciate what I have and use my privilege to help others.
The last reason is the most important. Because recently, I was invited by a friend to join a 40-day challenge.
40 days of water
Blood:Water is an NGO that empowers communities to fight HIV/AIDS through clean drinking water (and other efforts). As part of their 40 Days of Water Challenge, I'm only drinking water until Easter. Setting aside the money I'd normally spend on beverages, I'll be giving it to those who lack clean water.
Although giving up coffee might seem like the stupidest idea I've had in a long time, it's going to be good for me. My hope is it'll cause me to do some soul searching and become more compassionate toward those in need. Plus, there are also some legitimate health benefits to quit drinking coffee — which I'm sure I'll enjoy once the headaches go away.
So if you live in Nashville and see me at a coffee shop, typing away at my laptop with a delicious cup of water by my side, try not to give me a hard time. It's for a good cause.
How you can join me
If you feel led to join me in giving up coffee (or all liquids other than water), here's what you can do:
- Watch this video.
- Sign up for the 40 Days of Water Challenge.
- Consider giving a donation to Blood:Water Mission to support the building of clean water wells in Africa (in fact, you can do this even if you don't want to give up the beverages).
- Stock up on the H20! (You may want to spend a few days weaning yourself off caffeinated beverages, as I did.)
Have you ever given up something for an extended period of time? Share in the comments.