For a large number of years I associated coffee with smoking. I started drinking coffee in 8th grade when I had a paper route. We lived with my grandparents at the time. My grandmother was an early riser. She meet me in the morning as I woke up, plunk down a mug of coffee filled with cream and sugar in front of me, and tell me to drink up. She sit there doing the cross word puzzle, smoking a cigarette, and drinking her coffee as I slowly woke up. I’d then come home from my route, she’d be finished with the puzzle, and would have another mug of coffee waiting for me.
I started smoking my freshman year in college. I was already addicted to coffee, making a fresh pot every morning before heading off to school. I started each morning off with a cigarette and a cup of coffee. To this day, I still hold my coffee in my left hand because of this. It was a ritual of mine. Get up. Make coffee. Step outside, have a smoke, drink coffee, get ready and go to school. All the way through college and seminary I did this.
And then I quit smoking on January 30, 2005. I quit just a few days after finding out my wife was expecting our first kid, soon to be my son. I quit cold turkey. I think I was a jerk for like 3 months shortly after I quit smoking. But I didn’t give up on coffee. Nope. I drank it even more.
Then I started to realize something. I was drinking coffee as I was reading through scripture. I would do my devotions, bible in front of me, pen in my right hand, and a mug of coffee in my left. It became my morning routine.
When I first quit smoking, I didn’t realize just how much I associated drinking coffee with it. It was just something that went hand in hand.
This morning, as I was about to begin my devotions, I went and grabbed a mug of coffee, put some creamer in it, sat down, and began to read. And then memories started to flood back into my mind. Memories of cold March mornings (well, cold for southern California), the smell of cigarette smoke in the air, my grandmother (now passed through the gates of glory) doing her puzzle, and that mug of coffee in front of me.
And then I realized just how much I now associate coffee with devotions. It’s part and parcel of it all. It’s a better association than what smoking once was (with the coffee not the bible). And it’s part of my morning routine. I get up. I get ready. I brew coffee, and I sit down and read scripture and pray. And there’s always a mug of coffee next to me when I do.
It’s interesting how the brain works, really. How we associate certain things with other things. That our brain sometimes just needs that association to help further memories, to help further thought. The coffee isn’t essential to doing morning devotions, but it helps focus. It helps me remember the years gone by, the changes that have happened in my life, and who I am in Jesus.
It’s just a cup of coffee, but it means something to me.