I was in line waiting for my salted caramel white mocha. I could feel that angel on my shoulder telling me I shouldn’t be doing this but I was swatting him away, telling him to buzz off.
Every day I got the call… Go to Starbucks.
That little red devil that sat on my other shoulder called me every morning, and I obediently answered the call each and every time. I gave in to my addiction. The pull to Starbucks was strong. I couldn’t resist. My heart would do a little flip when I heard the word, Starbucks. It was like a chime went off in my head, and like a zombie, I mindlessly obeyed without question.
Now I was standing in line, and the angel was speaking in my other ear. I didn’t want to listen. The hand-crafted drink I had driven ten miles to get every day, had 470 calories and 59 grams of sugar in it. It also cost $5. You’re doing the math, right? Yes, that would be around 1800 dollars a year.
Is ordering a Starbucks wrong? No! Is wasting my money on expensive coffee when I could be saving it instead, a wise choice? Is eating fifty-nine grams of sugar a day healthy for me? I had a coffee maker at home, that would cost me $12/ month for coffee instead, but wasn’t using it. I was also wasting gas on the ten-mile drive.
One day the conviction was so intense I prayed and asked God to deliver me from my addiction. It didn’t happen right away. I kept going, but my trips became fewer and fewer, till I was down to picking up a coffee once a week on my way to Bible study.
I’m not sure if I was addicted to the sugar or the coffee. The caffeine intravenous started about fifteen years ago…
I had never been one who could consume caffeine since it caused every cell in my body to buzz in extreme energy, so much so, that it drove me crazy and I didn’t like the feeling. One day I saw an ad for caffeine pills and ordered a bottle. I was exhausted. My son Kyle had been getting up fifteen to twenty times a night due to having autism, bipolar, OCD and night terrors. It had been going on for years, and I could barely make it through the day. I thought I would turn to a harmless drug… caffeine.
The anxiety drove me crazy at first, then I got used to it and needed increasingly more caffeine to keep me awake. Then Time Horton’s came out with French vanilla cappuccinos. They didn’t have a strong coffee taste. I had never liked the taste of coffee and would load it up with tablespoons of sugar. I went through Timmy’s drive-through ordering a large French vanilla with two sugars. There was silence at the other end.
Then the employee said, “You know that drink is full of sugar already?”
I assured her I knew that.
“Well, if I put two sugars in it, you’ll be drinking just sugar.”
Did she have to guilt me? What happened to the concept of having happy customers? I drove away with my sugar and eventually bought cans of the powder to make my own at home so I could make it as sweet as I wanted, without the guilt.
My intentions were good when I first bought caffeine pills. I had five kids all close in age who needed me to be a good mother. Not a grumpy, tired one. This was going to accomplish the task. This was going to turn me into a cheerful, Good Housekeeping wife and mother.
But now I was like a drug addict, hiding my secret, spending money on my addiction and making excuses for my habit.
I decided to kick the habit one day and went off caffeine. Three weeks later I was still exhausted. Nothing could counteract my lack of sleep. Back on the coffee, I went, and I was functioning again. Caffeine is in my diet to this day. My son is now sleeping at night, and I have no excuse left to be hanging onto my habit.
My daughter Charity, who is a holistic nutritionist, recently did a blog post on weaning off of caffeine. I shared the post on my Facebook page. A small flicker of conviction sat in my mind. Maybe it was time to wean off caffeine or at least reduce how much I was consuming. I am sleeping most nights now and probably don’t need the caffeine to keep me on my feet.
I know what you’re thinking… Why is she making such a big deal about a couple of cups of joe? Stick with me. Recently I needed some tests done and was told to fast, and all I could think was, I won’t have my coffee until noon that day. Panic set in. Panic over missing a couple of cups of coffee. I wasn’t worried about not eating, I was concerned about my drug being taken away… coffee.
You may be judging me right now, but we all have experienced addictions. Which one was, or is yours? Shopping, sports, approval of others, gossip, control, media, money, fame, violence, pornography, video games, food, sugar, alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana, crack, being self-righteous…coffee.
Some of those addictions can be more harmful to yourself or others. But the simple fact is we are using something to soothe or make us feel good about ourselves, I included. Over the years God has helped deliver me from other addictions. Food, shopping, Starbucks… he knew I was putting these objects ahead of him and they were taking up a part of my life he wanted to fill instead.
All this is to say; Do you have an addiction that you wish you could ditch? Maybe you’re in a vicious cycle and don’t know how to get out. If even an ounce of conviction is sitting in your mind and heart, ask God for help. He isn’t here to pound you into the ground with guilt. He wants to help you ditch the habit or addiction.
I had a friend confess one day that she was addicted to cigarettes, I could see the massive guilt she was carrying. I figured it must be serious. Then I asked her how much she smoked and she said one cigarette a day. I laughed. I asked her if she had all that guilt over one cigarette? She nodded. I told her it wasn’t as big a deal as all the blame heaped on her, and God wanted to deliver her, not heap guilt.
God convicts and then delivers. The Devil tempts and then guilt’s.
As I left her apartment, she handed me her cigarettes and asked me to toss them out for her. I wasn’t sure this was a wise choice to go cold turkey, but I did what she asked. Many months later she said God gave her a dream about her cigarettes and when she woke up she no longer wanted to smoke.
Am I telling you to quit your addiction today? No, I am not. That’s between you and God. He never tempts us, but sometimes He allows us to go through temptation to help us realize our need for him. He will decide when you’re ready to quit. I am still working on mine and cannot pass judgment on anyone. He has given me a promise, a message of hope, and I cling to it daily, knowing God wants to set me free. So, I started weaning off caffeine. I’m down to one cup of coffee, then a second cup with half of it decaf. I hope to be caffeine-free in a few weeks. I’m hoping to not kill anyone in the process.
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out, so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13
Believing and hoping