Most folks who know me know that I love Starbucks iced chai. The deliciousness slides down my throat with such ease, such refreshment! Milky and sweet, with just a bit of kick at the end. I’m salivating.
It used to be, long ago, that a day on which I chose to spend the astronomical amount of money that Starbucks charges for a 16 oz. drink was a special day. Iced chai was for a get together with a friend, or a particularly sweet victory (got the job! finished the project!), or a reward for doing an icky thing (mole #17 removed!).
But over time, my delicious iced chai changed its tune. Instead of being for truly special instances, it demanded that every day be special.
It’s Friday! You made it through the week! That’s special! Get a chai!
It’s Monday! You need some support! Mondays are icky! Get a chai!
It’s Thursday! You need to feel special! Get a chai!
Over time, my internal iced chai demand started to feel like a ball and chain. I was spending $80 a month– $80 that I really didn’t have – on this addictive drink. Ah, yes, it was addictive. All that sugar, all that caffeine… I was addicted.
Nobody really thinks about sugar and caffeine as being bad addictions. Almost all of us joke about those particular addictions with some regularity. “Need my sugar fix!” a co-worker says jocularly on the way to the cookies in the kitchen. “Need my morning caffeine!” laughs a friend, yawning as we meet up for breakfast. “If only I liked coffee or something that was less expensive,” I would sigh to myself as I navigated through the drive-thru.
But the addiction, though certainly physical, was also emotional. I felt, I needed, every day to feel special. Problem is, anything special that you do every day starts to feel ordinary… then mundane… then constricting. It wasn’t just that I was addicted to caffeine and sugar. It was that I was addicted to emotional highs.
To live a normal daily life was somehow, in my heart, equated with being stuck. It wasn’t really about the caffeine or the sugar; it was an uneasiness about leading an ordinary life. With our cultural value that “well-behaved women rarely make history,” the goal is clearly that every woman must make history! Leading a normal life is for losers. Obvi.
This may strike you as bizarre, or you may be nodding your head. With our globally connected lives, it’s hard sometimes to see the beauty in the peaceful and quiet life – the normal life of going to work, grocery shopping, debriefing my day with someone, going to bed. The excitement of always being “on” is so stimulating.
Until I crash.
Then, of course, I long deeply for this quiet life – but by that point, it feels “not enough.” I should be saving the world, if not through my daily activities, then at least through my Facebook posts! Each day should be special! Each conversation should be monumental!
Paul has some thoughts for the Christians in Thessalonica about this.
Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. … [M]ake it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
Christians were long predecessors of Facebook in calling people to action. We make much of Bible sections like the Great Commission, the Apostle Paul’s missionary journeys, and the commands to care for “the least of these.” Those are important passages.
But the Bible is not just a bunch of verses smacked together. It’s a cohesive whole. I have to hold those great passages in tension with the basic commands to love one another, to live a quiet life, to do my work peacefully, recognizing that living a normal, mundane life brings glory to God when I’m enjoying His presence. HE is what makes each day special.
I have to fight internally to believe this. But He gave me some help. Through a combination of broke-ness and fertility diets (I’ve tried everything!), I had to quit my chai for a while. It was a severe mercy. I wish I could say that I’m speaking tongue in cheek… but I’m not.
Breaking an addiction is always a painful process, even if it’s as silly an addiction as caffeine and sugar. It’s hard to live normal when you’re used to always living high. It’s even harder to live through painful circumstances when you can’t have your “comforter.” (That would have been my chai, not God…)
The emphasis on severe mercy, though, is mercy. So often I put the emphasis on severe! The mercy is that, taking away my crutch, I find I’m perfectly capable of walking! I don’t have to be always (or ever) running a marathon. Chai has never been what made a day special, even on the days that I joyfully consumed it. God has made days special, again and again. It may sound cliche, but it’s gloriously true!
Much as I want to make each day feel extraordinary with some comfort or excitement, “treats” become chains when I’m looking to them to make me happy. What a pathetic god, iced chai.
Tasty treat, though. In normal-people land, where daily life can be mundane or exciting, happy or sad, a treat really feels like something special. I’m glad to say that I’m back to an ability to actually enjoy it as a luxury. Thank God for his good gift of iced chai!