Bye, bye, for now, Joe

I just finished half of my caffeine supply for today.  Sigh.  I’m going to try not to dwell on this too much, but guys, it’s a loss. Maybe just a temporary loss, but still a loss.

I used to give up caffeine for Lent.  Sometimes I would give up all caffeine, sometimes just coffee.  Somewhere along the way, I switched from giving things up to adding a lifestyle change during Lent that would last beyond the forty days — daily exercise, prayer, Bible study, healthier eating.  But, as I am sure you can guess, my intentions didn’t always match the outcome.

I vaguely remember giving up all caffeine right before we moved to the Seminary ten years ago.  Not only did I give up my coffee and tea, I also cleaned up my diet, added some exercise, and trimmed down a little.  Granted, it probably was out of anxiety for the move, a way to get some control in a tenuous time, but I think I remember feeling strong and healthy.

Well, a lot of things changed at the Seminary.  For one, there was a fabulous little coffee shop adjacent to the campus. My husband and I began to frequent it.  I also began running again after several years’ hiatus. I went to work full time while continuing to do my best as a mother to three school-aged children.  And the soldiering began.  Soldiers do drink coffee; everyone knows that.

In fact, my students and colleagues were well aware of my love for java.  I wrote sonnets about coffee — it’s true.   My husband would sometimes surprise me with a classroom coffee delivery — forget flowers! My colleagues and I would often escape during our prep period for fifteen minutes to run out for a cup of Starbucks.  In fact, I had one student teacher who regularly volunteered to go pick up our orders for us! My love for caffeine was so well-known that during my last month at Lutheran North, several students brought me Starbucks gift cards tucked inside thank you notes.

Over the last two years, as I have been on and off a variety of medications, my tastes have changed:  I often now prefer a strong cup of English breakfast over coffee;  I used to drink my coffee with cream, now I drink everything black and unsweetened.  But let’s be clear here: I always, I mean always, drink caffeine.  Usually three or more cups of the stuff.  Every day.

So, in anticipation of the ‘ultra simple diet’ experiment, I am tapering off.  I am allowing myself two cups of tea today.  Two tomorrow.  One cup each on Thursday and Friday.  I think I have established Saturday as Day One.  I gotta gear up, especially when the first instruction for each day is to “drink two tablespoons organic extra-virgin olive oil mixed with the juice of half of an organic lemon.”  Who does that?   It’s supposed to “help flush the toxins from your bile and liver into your gut to be excreted.”  Good morning.

It’s weird.  So is washing yourself in the Jordan seven times.  When Elisha sent the messenger to tell Naaman to do this, Naaman was ticked!  “Come on, I could’ve done that at home!”  He stomped off in a rage.  (Sounds like something I would do.)  But his servant ran after him and said something like, “Is it really gonna kill you to give it a try?” (That’s the Rathje Revised Version.) Now, I am not saying my doctor is a prophet.  But she’s not asking me to have surgery, to take daily or weekly injections, or to acknowledge that I am going to be in pain for the rest of my life.  She’s just asking me for seven days.  Is it really gonna kill me to give it a try?

Sigh.  Probably not.

Psalm 6:2

Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint;

heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.

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