At its peak, my addiction took over my entire day.
First thing in the morning, I’d slink out of my bedroom to start the day with a little indulgence before the kids got up, and I’d continue to partake throughout the morning.
By lunchtime, my arms buzzed, my head felt fuzzy, and I had an extremely short fuse.
Around three o’clock in the afternoon, I’d satiate myself with another dose so I could survive the late afternoon energy lag. My body often felt weak and shaky by this point.
After supper, I’d barely resist the urge to consume more, consoling myself with the knowledge that I could fill my need as soon as I woke up in the morning.
Nighttime was torture. All I wanted to do was fall asleep so I could wake up for more, but I was too buzzed to nod off…
I’ve been addicted to lots of stuff.
As a teenager, I was addicted to Celine Dion. Not kidding. She inspired and entertained me, so I had a ton of her CDs. I listened to her music almost every day and watched her concerts on TV. I knew most of the words to her songs.
Yet, the more enthralled I became with Celine, the more anxious and miserable I was.
One day, I realized that I’d been treating her like an idol as if listening to her songs made my life complete. So, I put her CDs aside (even though I really didn’t want to) and confessed my obsession.
Soon, the anxiety fled.
Of course, this was only a mild addiction, a fairly easy victory in hindsight, but it felt monumental to me at the time.
I’ve been addicted to many other things like attention and food. I’m probably addicted to things right now I’m not even aware of yet, and I’ll likely be addicted to more in the future.
We all have addictions.
Your vice may be TV, wine, social media, shopping, productivity… the list goes on. Several years ago, the addiction that consumed my days was coffee.
And before you write-off my coffee addiction as not real or problematic, know this:
Coffee makes me anxious, irritable, and edgy. But the worst effect coffee has on me is that I get snappy: I yell.
And who gets it good when I can’t control my tongue? My children.
Let’s at least agree that if my coffee addiction wasn’t putting me in any kind of danger, it was certainly hurting my kids. And I hated that.
Struggling to be free.
Coffee. Just the sound of it percolating early in the morning would wake me from a deep sleep.
It was as if the gentle trickle of hot brew would tiptoe up the stairwell from the kitchen to tickle my sleeping ears. And just to be a jerk, it would bring a waft of coffee aroma with it to make sure I’d answer the call.
And I did. Eagerly. Every day.
Yet, the very thing that promised bliss transformed me into a moody, short-tempered, yelly-mom. I didn’t want to be a mean mom who couldn’t curb her tongue, so I knew I needed to cut back.
In desperation, I’d go on coffee fasts to weaken my dependency. One time, I lasted three whole days! And it was torturous. Plus, I came out of my fast just as addicted as before.
I hated the hold coffee had over me. I hated how it made me feel. But I thought about it all day long and couldn’t seem to escape its clutches.
I remember praying:
“Lord, if this is how I feel about coffee, if I can’t be free from this simple thing, what of those who are addicted to drugs and alcohol and pornography?
“Have mercy! Forgive me for judging others, ’cause I can’t even quit coffee!”
An unexpected gift.
Everything changed one crisp October afternoon as I sat on my couch with my Bible and journal, praying. I was confessing my struggles and accepting God’s love for me when a deep knowing entered my heart.
It seemed suddenly clear that a few fasts here and there weren’t going to cut it. I had to quit coffee indefinitely, and I was heartbroken at the thought. Yes, heartbroken.
I loved coffee! I loved the feeling of the steamy mug in my hands, the cozy companionable comfort of my liquid friend. I couldn’t imagine enjoying life without it.
I was terrified to quit, sad for the loss of life as I knew it. Plus, I knew I would fail in my own strength.
“I know I can’t quit, Lord. So, what’s the plan? I’ll need a miracle to kick coffee and change my bad habits.”
Even as I prayed, I felt a level of freedom in surrender. I knew it was all – or mostly all – up to God now.
I still tried to do my part. I wrote down some inspirational quotes and verses to put up all over the house. These would be my reminders as to why I wasn’t going to take another sip of that delicious coffee I already wanted so badly. But I had no idea how I would actually avoid taking that next sip.
“Lord, I need you in this so badly,” I wrote in my journal. “Please help me! Change my bad habits. I don’t want to be a mean, harsh mom and an irritable wife. I don’t like being this way.”
Joy comes in the morning.
I knew God worked a miracle in me when I awoke the next morning.
Shifting lazily in my bed, I heard the sounds of children chattering. The kids were up before me? I was shocked.
Why hadn’t I woken to the usual sound and smell of coffee brewing? I breathed in deeply through my nose. Nope. Nothing.
Maybe my husband had decided to skip coffee that morning. Odd. Yet, when I walked downstairs and reached the dining room, I found him sitting at the table eating his breakfast with a steaming cup of coffee beside his water cup.
And not only did I not wake up from the smell and sound that morning, but I also realized, while looking at his mug, that I had absolutely no desire to pour myself a cup. None. Nothing.
I knew that God had given me a gift, this not wanting coffee, but I didn’t want to take the gift for granted or make assumptions that it would last forever.
So I took action steps to complement my new freedom:
- I kept track of how many days I’d gone without a drink and practiced gratitude for God’s kindness to me.
- I bought loose-leaf herbal teas to sip on for when I wanted the cozy feeling of a mug in my hand.
- I drank more water and took notice that my mood was better.
I wasn’t as anxious and shaky anymore, and I yelled less. It was a new me!
A surprising twist.
Although I knew I’d received a miracle, what I didn’t know was that my gift, at least in part, was temporary.
Exactly six months after that miracle morning, I awoke to the sound and smell of coffee. It was back.
Once again, I loved the smell of roasted beans brewing and the sound of coffee trickling into the glass pot on the counter. I longingly watched my husband sip his morning cup while confusion brewed inside of me.
What was happening? Why would God take away this desire just to give it back again? What was I to do?
From confusion to direction.
Despite my frustration and confusion over God’s methods, there was one positive thing I definitely noticed: my desire for coffee was different this time. It wasn’t an uncontrollable desperation.
Yes, I wanted a cup, but I could say no to it.
And I did say no because I felt like I would be letting God down if I poured myself a cup. It was as if we’d made a pact and that simple act would break his heart. I felt guilty that I wanted a drink.
So, I did the only thing I knew to do when I really need answers and direction: I fasted.
After a three-day fast, I felt I’d found the assurance that I needed:
- I wasn’t breaking a pact with God if I had a cup of coffee.
- If I wanted a cup, I could thank God for my tasty coffee and enjoy it without feeling guilty.
- I had a responsibility to stay open to God showing me if I needed to let go of coffee once again.
How to find your own freedom in surrender.
We all have a part to play when it comes to walking in freedom:
Your part and mine are to pursue God and freedom. God’s part is to pour His power into our lives and set us free.
Warding off old habits.
It’s been several years since I woke up to my coffee miracle.
In the last year, I’ve noticed myself revert back to some old habits: making half a pot of coffee in the afternoon, indulging in a mug at a friend’s house in the evening.
This is a slippery slope for me – I know full well.
And although I still don’t feel that coffee has the same power over me that it did before my miracle, I know I’m responsible to keep hold of my gift. I believe I have a responsibility to self-assess, to be willing to bend my knee once again and say:
“God, I’m doing it again. I’m giving this thing too much territory in my life, and I desperately need your help in taking back my freedom.”
There is no formula.
I wish I could offer you some pretty, step-by-step formula that would guarantee you the same kind of miracle for your struggles that I received for my coffee addiction.
There is no formula; but there is hope.
Hope for your journey to freedom.
Remind yourselves of these three truths as you travel down your own road to freedom:
- You are loved and saved by grace.
- Don’t sit under an oppressive shadow of condemnation. Confess your sins to God and accept the forgiveness that comes through Jesus Christ.
- Your weaknesses can’t separate you from God’s love, and your good deeds can’t bring you closer to his presence.
Maybe you even feel invisible, like God doesn’t see you, care about you, or love you. It’s not true! Read this message to be assured that God sees you!
- There is freedom in surrender!
- When you feel weak and, therefore, are entirely dependent on God, that’s when He releases the most power into your life.
Not only will God save you from your weaknesses, but He’ll also use you through and despite them. Check out this article: Why I Believe God Works in Our Weaknesses (and You Can Too!).
- You have a responsibility to run the race well.
- Don’t use surrender as an excuse to give in to depravity. Keep searching for answers. Keep going back to God. Keep taking healthy steps toward freedom.
- Don’t give up, because one day soon God’s power is going to come crashing through that weakness of yours with the most earth-shattering gentleness, and He’ll win the battle for you!
God’s healing power never condemns. There may be pain in the healing, but there is always gentleness in His power.
What do you need freedom from?
My dear friends,
(And I’m talking to myself just as much as I’m talking to you)
Freedom isn’t found in perfection.
Freedom is found in humble surrender, in our utmost dependence on God’s grace to save us from ourselves.
What do you need freedom from today? Surrender it to God. Be honest with yourself and with Him. Then, watch him work miracles in your life.