by Elisa Morgan
I didn’t used to like coffee. I was a “tea” girl instead. Coffee was – well – it left a “hmmmphghhhh” taste in the front of my mouth. Just behind my front teeth.
Throughout high school exams, college finals, even in the months of early motherhood where I blearily stared at the bundle God had entrusted to me wondering how I would ever manage to feed, bathe and clothe the thing, I didn’t drink coffee. I didn’t like the taste. To be honest, I was a little judgmental about friends and folks who did like coffee. After all, how could they?
And then, in my mid-thirties, it happened. I was minding my own business, seated at a round banquet table having just ingested the chicken dinner. I picked up my dessert fork to tine a bite of chocolate cake into my still-hungry mouth. And then, without really noticing, I reached for my coffee cup that was usually a teacup but had been filled with coffee by some thorough wait staff person. Without noticing its contents, I raised it to my lips.
I sipped. I slurped. I drew my head back and peered at the contents. Something was off. I stared at the espresso color. I swallowed again, ran my tongue against the back of my front teeth, puckered my lips and breathed out and in amazement. I took another sip. I liked it. I liked coffee.
This same stunning surprise has occurred over and over in my relationship with God. There are lots – oh so many things! – that I don’t particularly like at first.
Interruptions that draw my attention off the oh-so-very-important project I’m buried in and on to – get this – a human being. I raise my head from my task and squint at the person before me and am somehow strangely more gratified than I was just minutes before in my all-consumingly vital task.
Disobedient dogs who go running after balls in the middle of the dog park and don’t come back even when I scream their names so loudly my husband can hear me on the deck of our house a mile away. And then they come back so happy, and muddy, and slobbery and oblivious to their error and eager to love and be loved. And I laugh. A concrete illustration of all the very real issues I can’t control in life.
Yep. There are lots of things I don’t like. I honestly think I finally started to like coffee partly because I’d matured to the point that my mouth could take in its offering. But also because I let my guard down – the piece of me that had staked a side of my identity on not liking coffee.
Looking back at my dislike and then like of coffee has made me reconsider all the other things I haven’t liked, and why. Disobedient dogs. Interruptions. Middle of the night tug of wars. Perplexing unanswered prayers. Here’s what I’m discovering: after sitting with most “unliked” things and eventually inviting God to sit with me in them, I start to sip, slurp and eventually draw my head back in surprise deciding: I like it. Sometimes begrudgingly. Sometimes just sorta – but I like it more than I don’t.
Know why? I decide I like it because I like God. And if he’s allowed it and if he’s in it, well, then I guess I like it.
Today I like coffee. Who knows what I’ll like tomorrow?