One of my favorite things to do is go out to coffee with friends. I remember those days long ago in the voyage of singlehood, when guys would ask me out for coffee and I could never tell if this was a shady way to get a date or if these were highly evolved male attempts at opposite sex friendship. Most of the time it was a date.
When Steve and I were dating, our favorite place was Caribou Coffee. Those were the days when I could order a large white chocolate mocha with extra whipped cream and not gain 10 pounds in one sitting. Now I have to order a kids’ size nonfat no whip mocha – easy on the mocha. But we loved it. We plopped ourselves down on those overstuffed leather lounge chairs and took up paying customers’ space as we pontificated on life, love and God for hours at a time. Looking back, I think I felt too at home there, hanging my legs over the arm of the chair like I owned the place, talking way too loud and dominating the coveted space next to the fireplace.
I remember those times with such fondness. It was an era of finding like-minded people and growing in closeness with them as we sipped on overpriced coffee with an ease about life that now – I covet. That was me back then. But in some ways, I feel that I lost that person along the way. Things got so complicated. So heavy. So Real. Coffee became a means of survival, not a means of relaxed sharing of sweet company with people I was beginning to love and trust. Responsibilities stacked up like piles of dirt on a grave, choking the lighthearted joy out of life that was once so abundant and effortless.
I think people try to run away from this part of life. We see the years and the added layers of obligation chip away at the youthful bounce we once had in our step. I know people who don’t want to get married, or have kids, or work a 9 to 5 because they want to have fun. They want to be free. I get it on some level. That would seem to be the obvious solution to not turning into a sulky tired version of our young and free selves. But, alas, like so much of life, it’s not that easy. Avoiding building new layers of life is not the path to light and free. Building new layers of life is essential to discovering the emerging realities God desires for us to experience. But instead of experiencing these richer elements of life we often get buried in the minutia of it all.
I think we lose sight of the simplicity of the deeper journey with God. We think it’s about all this other stuff, “out there.” When in fact, it is about the simple things, “right here.” We, like sheep following a herd, march into the crowded world of busyness, pursuing accomplishments, jumping from thing to thing, inhabiting worry that is more multi-faceted than our personalities, and fighting a relentless urge to keep up with the Joneses. We wonder where our glow of youth went. It went with the herd, right into the heart of the world where things that don’t matter do, and things that do matter don’t. We followed the herd for the right reasons, but we got stuck there for the wrong ones. And being stuck makes us feel tired, bored, and restless.
This is where many of us are at risk of one of the greatest dangers, thinking that if we just had this, or could do that, or look like that, we would find the joy again. But that’s just another version of “the grass is greener,” and a more dressed up version of a human hamster wheel. How do we move forward into joy, and not just be running in place, using so much energy on things that mean so little?
I think it goes back to having coffee again, not with lovers or friends, but with God. And not as a means of survival, but as a means to engage in meaningful fellowship, the kind that gives life to our souls without us even realizing it.
My wonderful and self-sacrificing husband has given me the gift of rest and time. This season of this particular kind of momhood which requires constant attention and energy has extended far past what I had thought it would. So I’m tired. A lot. I kept trying to figure out ways to rest with no success until one day Steve said, “You take Saturdays off. You have a free babysitter, why not use him?” So that’s what I’ve been doing. I sleep in until an hour that I won’t disclose out of appropriate embarrassment. I read, write, and let my mind and heart unplug for 8 beautiful hours. I thought that what I mainly needed was rest, but what I ended up realizing is that what I needed was coffee with God.
I needed those uninterrupted hours, spent lazily on overstuffed chairs next to the fireplace, sharing heart and life with God over coffee. About 6 Saturdays into this coffee experiment, something started to change in me. If you know me, you may not even notice it. But I do. That coveted youthful bounce has slowly worked it’s way back into my step. That kind of joy that only comes from divine generosity has slipped back into my heart. The feeling that it isn’t what I do with my life that ultimately matters, it is actually my life that matters.
And what surprised me the most: when I show up, God does too.
He is just as good with drinking mochas over hours at a time, legs over chair, enjoying the blessings of like-mindedness and discovery of heart and life.
Could it be that coffee with God is the thing I’ve been missing for so long? The thing that makes the difference between joy and misery, exhaustion and vitality, fear and trust, loneliness and love, anxiety and peace? We all know we need more rest. But do we realize how much we need more coffee with God?
I picture the worker bee, buzzing around frantically making that delicious honey. Then I picture that same bee basking in the honey as he eats and rests in delight, recharging for the work ahead. I am done being a worker bee alone. I am going to start enjoying that honey. And maybe then, the glow of life will return to me again and again.
Here’s to more coffee and less doing….