You know when I said that this was my chance to prove to myself that I didn’t need coffee quite as much as I thought I did? Well, I guess I really didn’t understand the impact that coffee was having on my body!
I’m not a stranger to fasting. In my early twenties, I regularly fasted one day a week – as in total abstinence from all food and with only water to drink. I did a couple of three day fasts too. But that’s all a long time ago. In more recent years, I’ve done diets that involve fasting of one kind or another. That’s not what I’m doing now, but those experiences taught me that the first three days are always the worst. It’s a shock to your body and it takes it at least that long to get over it!
So, I wasn’t expecting the first three days to be easy…but sometime in the afternoon of day one I realised that I’ve never given up coffee before. Never even tried. I didn’t really drink it much when I was in my early twenties – remember, that’s so long ago that I’m not sure Starbucks had even been invented, and it certainly hadn’t graced these shores!
I’d heard about caffeine withdrawal. But I have to confess that I thought people were over-dramatising what it was like. How hard could it be? I mean, I know people who say they can’t possibly drink coffee after 11am or they will never be able to sleep. Personally, I could drink it (strong and black) at 11pm and have no problem sleeping. I’ve always thought it was great that it seemed to have relatively little impact on me – and of all my foodie vices it was the one with the fewest calories!
Well, this was the first thing I learned through Simplify 7. Coffee clearly has a much bigger impact on my body than I thought – and caffeine withdrawal is horrendous!
I’m not going to go into details. It wouldn’t make for pleasant reading. If you’re interested you can follow this link:
Suffice to say that I had pretty much all of those symptoms and could barely manage to get through those first two days at work.
But here’s what else I learned. I can be very stubborn – and the part of me that knows that it takes your body at least three days to get over the shock of a major change to your diet wanted to just carry on regardless. This was something I was committed to, and I was going to do it, however sick it made me.
And then I realised that I was doing exactly the wrong thing. God makes it very clear what he wants from a fast (see What’s it all about? for more details) and Jesus showed his disciples time and time again that blindly following the rules is not what God wants his people to do (see Luke 6 for one example)
Carrying on was about my pride. Thinking again – and praying about it – was about admitting that I was wrong and asking for some help. It let me focus on what was actually important. And the help came.
It came in the form of a compromise. Cynics might say that’s mighty convenient. Well, maybe it is. But what God wants isn’t always the hard thing. Sometimes it’s actually very easy; it just requires us to be willing to see a different point of view. Someone told me recently that I can be very hard on myself. I immediately thought she was being ridiculous: I think I’m pretty self-indulgent. But it gave me another perspective – and I think she may be right.
I came across this on Twitter a little while ago. It’s all about looking at what God has given you, rather than stubbornly insisting that you can find your own way. Certainly a lesson I think I need to learn.
Oh, and the compromise? I still don’t get any coffee – having gone through two days of torture and realising what a hold it actually had over my body, I didn’t want to take a backward step – but I do get one can of Diet Coke per day, and paracetamol with caffeine if I really need them!