The other day I was thinking about coffee. This is not an unusual occurrence in my life seeing as I can’t even seem to form complete sentences until I get my cup of Joe in the morning. This thought, however, was less about how good coffee tastes and more about how I drink it.
There are two very different ways of drinking a cup of coffee: You either enjoy it in a mug, or you take it on the run in a disposable cup. Both of these avenues provide you with a nice jolt of caffeine and both probably taste relatively the same. The big difference I see between these approaches is how the product is used and what kind of experience it produces.
When you drink coffee out of a mug, there is a considerable amount of care put into the making and cream/sugar ratio of the coffee, one then takes time to enjoy the coffee. You have to handle the cup with care so as to not spill the coffee or burn yourself. After you are finished, you have to wash the mug so you can use it again the next time you want coffee.
When you drink coffee out of a disposable cup, convenience is key. You are able to multitask while drinking the coffee and get the caffeine out of it without any mess from it spilling while you do other tasks. This experience of coffee is defined by its disposability. When you are done drinking the coffee, you throw away the cup and the next time you want a caffeine fix, you can just get a new cup.
By now you might be wondering what any of this has to do with anything but I want to pose an idea to you.
In Philippians, Saint Paul writes about how we should be treating one another. He says “Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself.” (Philippians 2:3). This inspired my New Year’s resolution and I want to invite you to be moved in the same way.
What if, we used this New Year to treat people like coffee out of a mug? What if we all made a resolution to not use others but to act out of selflessness? I’m sure that may sound a little challenging or even confusing so I am going to connect this idea to the coffee example which I just gave.
Treating our significant others like coffee from a mug looks a little something like this:
- TAKE THE PROPER CARE OF THAT OTHER PERSON
The same way that we need to take time to make sure the coffee has just the right amount of cream and sugar, we also need to take the time to make sure those who we are in relationship with are getting the care and attention that they deserve from us. We need to make sure to be sensitive in the way that we speak and act towards them. This selflessness way of thinking is key in avoiding use.
- ENJOY THEM FOR WHO THEY ARE NOT WHAT THEY CAN DO
When drinking coffee from a mug, we get to enjoy the drinking process and not just the end result of being more awake. With our significant others we need to appreciate who they are deep down and this means getting to know them. Spend more time appreciating these people in your life and get to a place where you can see them for who they are now and all that they dream of being in the future. Once we can see others as people with their own hopes, dreams, problems, and gifts, it will not only become easier for us to pray for and with them but will also help us to enjoy the journey of a maturing relationship with them and avoid using them for our own selfish purposes.
- KEEP IT CLEAN
Just like we need to clean any kind of residue or germs off of our mugs when we are done drinking our coffee, we need to make sure we are keeping our relationships free from buildup. This means taking care of any issues that arise in the relationship and not letting them get worse. It means being honest with that other person and thinking long term with our actions making sure they are aimed towards the goal of loving that person in the way we are called to. This will help us to discern our actions with more compassion and care for the people we are in relationships with.
Use is not what people are made for but it is something our world has become all too familiar with. Through prayer and intentionality, we can reverse the harmful effects of use in our world and in our lives.
A Bible quote that I want to share with you for this New Year is from the book of Esther and has been inspiring me in many ways, including in my relationships. It simply says “Perhaps this is the moment for which you were born” (Esther4:14).With that I want to encourage you… Do not be afraid to be bold and to be sincere in relationships this year. Treat others with respect and expect the same in return.
I will be praying for you throughout this new “use-free” year. May your coffee be hot and your relationships be holy.
God loves you so much and so do I.
1 Corinthians 13