The power of an image is incredible. We all have at least two images of ourselves. The image we see and the image others see. Kinda like who we think we are and who others think we are. And then there really is a third one – who God knows we are.

We cling to our image of ourselves and our image of who people think we are. It drives much of what we do on any given day. How will we act, what choices will we make, decisions, words we use, all driven by our sense of image. Either the image we have of ourselves or the image we want others to have of us.

Recently, I decided to take a break from drinking coffee. I was drinking close to a pot of coffee each day. I felt like not just the amount of coffee was unhealthy but the ‘control’ the coffee had over me. I had to have coffee in the morning, at lunch, in the afternoon, after dinner, all the time. It became a driving/controlling force behind much of what I did. So I took a break. It wasn’t really for lent. It wasn’t really to stop drinking it indefinitely. It was to re-gain perspective.

This was hard for me on a couple different levels.

1. The coffee itself. I really like coffee. I mean I really like coffee. You have no idea. I would drink it all the time. Literally. There is no beverage I prefer to drink more than coffee. I just really like it, a lot. This fascination with the taste of coffee started at an early age when I would make my way to my parents bed room from mine as a toddler. We lived in a trailer and our rooms were on opposite ends with the kitchen in the middle. I would stop at the kitchen trash can and grab a hand full of coffee grounds and munch away. I got hooked and I haven’t looked back…

2. The image itself. The image is hard for me. When people think of me they think of 2 maybe 3 things. 1. Coffee. I always have a cup of coffee with me. Everyone I know just associates Eli and coffee with each other. If there’s Eli there’s coffee and if there’s coffee there’s Eli. It’s a big deal to me. 2. My beanie. I have a Halo 3 beanie that I wear all the time. I often sleep in it too. It’s just kinda understood that if you see Eli he is going to be wearing this beanie. 3. The third image that is most likely associated with me, although maybe to a lesser degree because it is witnessed first hand a little less often is my motortcycle which has been dubbed Mad Max by all who spend anytime with it. If a Café racer and a street fighter had an illegitimate child, it would be my Mad Max. Rude, crude and socially unacceptable.

As you can see, the act of giving up coffee for a time was loaded with not just the act of restraining from the drink, but from who I am and who people think me to be. Laugh and chuckle at me as though I’m being trite and ridiculous, but I’m not. Coffee is as much a part of who I am as any other aspect of who I am is. Walking away from it was/is hard.

However, I have learned that I can do it. I can walk away from it. Now I don’t have to, because I know I can. In a strange way, this gives me the power to walk away from other habits I have that are much more destructive than drinking coffee.

Like anger.

I don’t have to get angry as easily, because I can control it. Scriptures warns us not to sin in our anger, I don’t know that I have ever been angry and not sinned. Yes, things bother and irritate and I can let them do such… But I don’t have to be mad about it. I can validate myself and express the emotion/feelings I am having and still not give into anger. My therapist would disagree…but he is not me.

I joked when I began to not drink coffee that it was an exercise on self-control. And it has shown me some good information. I know where I stand now. It has given the hope that I can exercise self-control to master other behaviors.

Is there an end to my coffee hiatus? You better believe it! Sunday, March 25th. I will be in Georgia drinking a morning cup of coffee with my parents. A good way to end the drought.

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