Monday, March 18, 2013

Learning from Lent (Part 1)

This year was the first time I've ever given up something for Lent.  I gave up coffee.

Lent, the 40-day time of preparation for Easter, is a period celebrated by Christians.  The tradition of giving up something for that period of time is often observed by Catholics and some Protestants as a way of showing penitence or to symbolize Jesus' sacrifice (in some small way) in their own lives.

Giving something up, now, is supposed to somewhat difficult for you.  If I gave up mountain biking or going to the gym, the sacrifice would not be the same.  I don't mountain bike, and I don't enjoy going to the gym.  So, coffee.  Why was that a big deal for me?

I realized I was beginning to think of coffee when I was having a bad emotional experience.  I was tired?  Make a Starbucks run.  I was stressed?  Run to the Keurig machine at the office.  There was something about holding that warm cup in your hand and having that sweet caffeinated liquid lift your spirits.

When I was in high school, I used to take a mug of hot chocolate every day to zero period.  My dad, who used to be a habitual coffee drinker in college, foretold that I was going to be "a coffee drinker just like him."  At the time, I hated the bitter stuff.  But as I entered the work world, I acquired the taste as my coworkers slowly exposed me more to how to properly enjoy it. 

Later, I started to develop headaches on the weekends when I didn't drink a cup in the morning.  I had heard from my dad that this was why he had stopped drinking this legally-addictive stimulant altogether.  Figuring it was probably in my genes, I tried to quit altogether.  I went cold turkey for a week, endured the close-to-migraines that week, and was able to have coffee every other day without repercussions afterwards.

Before Lent started, I had been drinking coffee more often and starting to get headaches again.  I knew I had to cut back (again) but was having difficulty doing so.  So, I decided it would be a fine thing to give it up for Lent.  I had never given up anything before, wanting to give up something that I felt would be legitimate, and it seemed a win-win situation.  It wasn't something drastic, like Internet or carbs, but was something that had enough weight in my life (I was getting withdrawal headaches for the second time after all) that I felt it was going to be somewhat of a challenge.

Learning from this experience has been a surprise from day one.  What I expected didn't happen.  What I thought would be minor turned out to reveal something deeper.  Stay tuned for the next part in my journey!

Read Part 2 here!

Soli Deo Gloria.