Giving Up Caffeine For Lent

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue, drowsiness, or loss of energy
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Decreased ability to concentrate or perform mental tasks

These are the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal according to WedMD. I know that now.
Unfortunately for me, I had to learn this the hard way…

It all started when I read the following tweet:

“He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other.”

I love that!

God is the source from which we should draw our energy:

He renews our strength when we wait on Him (Isaiah 40:31)

He provides times of refreshing when we repent and turn to Him (Acts 3:19)

He gives us hope so that we continue doing good and not loose heart (Galatians 6:9)

This got me thinking: Was God truly the source of my energy? Was I turning to Him looking for the boost I needed to get me through my day? Why was it that I’d go to Starbucks when I was feeling down instead of looking to my heavenly Father? Why was it that I would have energy drinks to keep me company working through the night instead of Him? This really convicted me, so I resolved to give up caffeine.

I reasoned within myself: I want to love God more! I want Him to fill my heart, mind, body, soul, and spirit and I can’t be dependent on anything else to sustain or satisfy me. The sooner I give caffeine up the better! Lent is going to start in a couple of days so it’ll be the perfect time to completely give it up and not look back. As I abstain from meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products, I’ll just add caffeine to the list.. no biggie

*Side note* For me, Lent was revolutionized a couple of years ago when a mentor told me that if we give something up for Lent because we feel it has some type of hold on us, we should do all we can not to go back to it after Lent. This is why I said that I would completely give up caffeine and “not look back” *End of side note*

It turns out my reasoning was flawed. Read this excerpt from St. Basil:

“Don’t try to be extremely disciplined right away. Above everything beware of your own confidence, lest you fall from a height of discipline because of lack of training. It is better to move ahead a little at a time. So then, withdraw from the pleasures of life little by little. Gradually destroy all your evil habits, lest you bring on yourself a mass of temptation by stirring up all your passions at once. When you have mastered one passion, then begin waging war against another. And before long you will get the better of them all.”

I couldn’t agree more for a couple of reasons:

1.) As it turns out, the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal mentioned above are not nearly as noticeable if you wean off of it (as opposed to giving it up all at once)

and 2.) The mass temptation (that St. Basil refers to) that one brings upon himself is not fun

I want you to imagine having even three of the above symptoms simultaneously. I’ve had maybe four of them at the same time right when I went cold turkey and the only “cure” was a cup of coffee or other caffeine supplement. Imagine if this were an evil addiction or a shameful sin someone was trying to give up. Quitting too fast could potentially lead the one struggling to a worse state than he was initially in.

In Matthew 5:48 Jesus commands “be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.” That’s quite the commandment. St. Gregory of Nyssa has this to say about perfection:

For this is truly perfection: never to stop growing toward what is better and never placing any limit on perfection

We’re not going to just wake up one day and walk like and talk like Jesus Christ (although that is our ultimate goal). But it will take a lifetime to be conformed to His likeness. Don’t expect too much from yourself too soon

You shouldn’t go to the other extreme either. You have to put in the effort and try!

I’ll leave you with this story:

The brethren came to Abba Anthony and said to him, “Speak a word: how are we to be saved?” The old man said to them, “You have read the Scriptures. That should teach you how.” But they said, “We want to hear from you too, Father.” Then the old man said to them, “The Gospel says, ‘if anyone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also.’” They said, “We cannot do that.” The old man said, “If you cannot offer the other cheek, at least allow one cheek to be struck.” “We cannot do that, either,” they said. So he said, “If you are not able to do that, do not return evil for evil,” and they said, “We cannot do that, either.” Then the old man said to his disciple, “prepare a little brew of corn for these invalids. If you cannot do this, or that, what can I do for you? What you need is prayers.”

You must never forget about synergy: God’s grace working hand in hand with man’s will, but that’s another blog post for another time.





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