Friday, February 27, 2015

Finding Focus

I walk laps back and forth past the coffee dispensers that are perpetually set up at Trader Joe's with my loads of crates of cheese and flat carts full of boxes product that need to be put on the shelf.

I glance at the clock.  It's only 6 PM, and I know that I will be here at least until midnight.  I'm running on little sleep because we've been working late, I haven't been able to get to sleep when I get home, and I've been getting up early to get people to where they need to be.  There's no two ways about it;  I'm tired.  I can almost hear the coffee calling out to me, but I turn a deaf ear and continue on my path

Because it's lent, and this year, I've given up coffee. 

Last year, it was sweets, but this year, with this job that keeps me up all night, I chose to give up coffee.  

But why?  

A group of women at our church are going through Beth Moore's Bible study on the book of Daniel called Lives of Integrity, Words of Prophecy (Lifeway Press, 2006).  In the study guide, Beth has been talking a lot about the fallacy of building ourselves up and directing the glory of our lives toward ourselves rather than the One who created us, and the dangerous temptation of pride.  She talks about how pride is a state of mind and how we can become as proud of our sacrifices as we are of our worldly goods and successes.  

In Day 1 of Week 4 in the study guide, Beth said that one day she was talking to a friend of hers and was embarrassed to admit that she had never participated in a certain 40 day fast that so many others had.  And her friend answered her and said that she had rarely seen anyone come from a 40 day fast who wasn't sooner or later proud of it.  

Ouch.  That hit home.  

Why am I giving up coffee?  

I guess the proper answer would be that I am withholding something from myself so that when I feel a craving or a desire for it, I remember the suffering of Christ and lean on Him through prayer to help me get through it.  And for many, that is exactly what they are doing.  And it works for them.  

But I think that the real truth for me in this is that I am not the one who's suffering!  I don't depend on coffee as an everyday thing to get me through, I just use the caffeine to get me over a hump when I know that I'm just too tired to really function well.  So, in reality, it would seem that it would be those around me who are suffering because I am being short or snippy with them because my eyes are burning from pure lack of sleep!  Otherwise, I only drink coffee because I enjoy it.  

And do I really have an ulterior motive?  I often give up coffee or sweets or whatever for a period of time just to do it to remind myself that I control what I put in my body, and to keep my system from becoming dependent on any one thing.  

So how is this bringing me closer to God?  

And how do I, as a mother of 5 who works full time at night, not come across as sounding smug when I say that I am giving up coffee in this Starbucks-driven society?  

So this year, I doing something different.  Instead of focusing on giving up, I am focusing on staying focused. 

I want to focus on Christ's walk to the cross.  I want to focus on sacrifice and giving.  I want to focus on loving the people that I love.  I want to focus on supporting my friends and showing compassion.  

And if that means sitting down across from my husband, holding his hand and telling him I love him over a cup of coffee, so be it.

And if that means taking stock of my burning red eyes in the mirror in the bathroom where I've run for a minute's peace, then marching myself to the kitchen to get a jolt of caffeine so I can be kinder to my children, so be it.  

And if that means sitting with you, my friend, at a banged up kitchen table commiserating over a steaming cup of joe so that you can feel supported, loved, and not quite so alone, so be it.  

But I will do it with focus.  It will be a conscious decision made with care, not just a paper cup of the stuff thrown back on my way into the backroom.  So yes, I am cutting back, but I'm not saying no altogether.  It will be planned and executed in a way that calls to mind Christ's walk to the cross, and His ultimate sacrifice so that I can keep the focus where it needs to be.  Not on my sacrifice, but on His.

His sacrifice that has given me life.  A life to live, and a life to enjoy

A life in which to mindfully enjoy my coffee.

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