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Coffee and Decisions

I have a love/hate relationship with coffee.  I know, it’s weird for someone in my situation (grad school, young adult, ministry person, etc.) to not really care for the one thing that unites all people around the cardboard cups with green mermaids on them, but I just don’t really care for it.  I never have.  I’m much more of a soft drink man myself.  I love Cheerwine, what I firmly believe is one of the best things to come out of North Carolina, more than most people love their pets.  I’m not ashamed…..maybe a little I am, but who cares?!

But his isn’t to evangelize you for the good news of Cheerwine.  This is about coffee, and how I can’t decide if I like it or not.  I have to confess, I do drink coffee sometimes (I’m sipping on some now while I write this) but I just can’t commit to the habit fully.  Like the way one commits to an ultra-healthy diet, I’ll tell myself I’ll stick with it and then always get called back to the sweet, carbonated goodness that feels like home.  Maybe it’s the bitterness of coffee I’m not fond of, or maybe it’s the stale aftertaste.  Maybe it’s the lava flow charring my lips and throat because my novice-coffee-drinking ways can’t master the blow and sip method that true coffee connoisseurs utilize to perfection.

Either way, I just can’t commit to that steamy brown lifeblood that fuels most of the American professional world.  Am I strange for that?  Maybe.  I often find myself in awkward situations when a colleague or mentor asks me to “go get coffee” and I have to awkwardly order something not coffee for the meeting to continue.  Don’t fret over me though, I’ve been navigating these uncomfortable substitution waters for awhile so I’ll keep ordering my sugar-saturated pink fruit teas and we’ll be alright.

But the more important question about my predicament with coffee is this:  why can’t I commit to it?  I enjoy it sometimes and sometimes I can’t stand the thought of it.  I can add cream and sugar until it’s barely coffee anymore and sometimes I like to think myself brave and adventure into bitter world of black coffee.  Either way, the outcome is normally the same.  I just end up kind of “meh” about coffee.  What is it about me that won’t allow me to commit to this normative social practice on a consistent basis?

When I reflect on my love/hate predicament with coffee, it reminds me of the predicament that we all face as humans in the struggle of committing or detaching.  The constant dynamic of deciding whether you will be involved in the environment of your life is an ever-present and sometimes exhausting process of small decisions that create larger ones.  It’s very easy, and often times too cathartic, to detach from one’s environment, to cancel plans with friends or acquaintances, to not do that extra task at work, to not do that extra act of love for a spouse or loved one, or to simply not make a decision at all.  It’s hard work to be committed to something, especially when there are so many options available.

But the Bible tells us to be committed, and to work for something.  A church in the book of Revelation is accused of being “lukewarm,” and much like coffee in its worst lukewarm form this attitude is seen as bad and worthy of being spit out.  Being committed to anything is challenging work, but it’s work that has to be done all the same.  Going through life in a constant state of detachment culminates in a shell of a life at all.  This is not to say that we have to be committed to everything all the time; that’s a silly idea that has caused more than one excellent person to burn out.  But we as human beings are compelled to be in community, and to be a part of that community, and to do something.  We each possess passions that are engrained into who we are that compel us and push us into acting.  We were not made to be idle, but were rather made to be about the business that God put us on this work to do, whatever that is to each distinct human being.

All of this action and doing starts with the simple decision of being committed to something.  It’s hard to work for a goal if you’re not committed to it.  It’s even harder to deal with the disappointment of never even chasing that goal in the first place.  Maybe I’ll never be able to commit to the habit of drinking coffee, and if not that’s okay because that’s a little decision.  What becomes dangerous is if that lack of committedness becomes a habit in life.  Don’t let it!  Like coffee, life is best enjoyed full of warmth that comes from actively being committed to what you are meant to be and do.  So be it, and do it.

Josh Godwin

There a handful of things in this life I truly love: my God, my wife, my dog, my town, my Cheerwine. I also love ministering with teenagers to help them realize God's love and everything God made them to be.

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