My Dear Reader,
My new job as a barista at a cafe is strange, to say the least. Not because the job itself is weird, of course. As usual, weirdness is just one of the many things that I bring to the table all on my own. Any normal person who works selling coffee is one thing, but as a Mormon, me selling coffee is as strange as as Jew who sells bacon. Just to be clear, my job doesn't mean than I'm any less devoted to being Mormon than I was before, but it does open me up to a lot of questions. Most of these questions are things I ask myself. Today, however, I'd like to talk about a question that my co-worker asked me the other day:
"Do you ever feel like you're missing out?"
I knew exactly what she meant; after all, the part of my day that I spend at the cafe revolves almost exclusively around helping other people get a substance that I'm not supposed to have. It was a perfect, honest question.* My response was just as honest:
"No, I feel like other people are missing out."
It must have been a strange thing to hear, but it's true. I don't sit around and feel sorry for myself because I can't drink coffee; I sit around and wish that more people understood what it felt like to live a life without coffee. I know that to most people, that doesn't really make sense, and it certainly didn't make sense to my friend. I explained that not drinking coffee was just part of my religion, and it's kind of an all-or-nothing thing. She said that to her, a religious ban on coffee seemed very arbitrary, and wondered how I felt about being kept from something for seemingly no reason.
This question was just as valid and honest as the first, in fact, I often meet people who are confused by the fact that I believe in following certain rules that they see as arbitrary. A lifetime of following those "arbitrary" rules has taught me this: the act of following the rule (or, keeping the commandment) tends to teach me why the rule is necessary. I start doing it out of faith, but after time, I'm doing it out of a deeper understanding. Abstaining from coffee is a great example of what I'm talking about. Most people don't see why coffee could be bad for them because they don't think about it.
Of course, I can't help but think about everything.
And, I don't believe that God gives arbitrary laws.
So, to try to figure out why, according to my faith, God has banned coffee, I have to try and figure out what makes coffee different than other things. I think most people are aware that coffee's bad for you, but so are marbled meats and orange dreamsicles, and those aren't off the menu.
Of course, there aren't thirty different ways to have an orange dreamsicle, and people don't get mad at you if you get it wrong. And there isn't an entire culture centered around marbled meats. No one tells you that they need marbled meats to wake up or stay up or think.
That would be a strange world.
But stranger still, it is that way with coffee. It's something that runs people's lives. It's addictive, so the more you have it, the more you need it. And the more you need it, the less control you have over your own life. And if you aren't controlling your life, who is? A bean?
In a way, addiction is it's own kind of slavery, something that takes away your freedom by taking away your self-control. And isn't self-control the most precious thing we have in this life? Isn't it something worth protecting? If all you had to do to keep you self-control in tact was to not drink something, would you think that you were missing out?
I honestly don't.
There are lots of things in this world that strip self-control away, and coffee is only one of them. My faith teaches me to cut those things out of my life so that I can master my body, instead of having my body master me. I do my best to steer clear of those things.
And while it's true that it means that sometimes I don't fit in, or that people think I'm weird, it doesn't mean that I feel like I'm missing out on slavery.
That's one thing I'd gladly miss out on.
Regards, best wishes, and self-mastery,
*Dear Reader, if you are of another faith, you should know that Mormons love nothing more than answering questions about their faith. Seriously. Ask us anything you want, and we'll be tickled pink to answer you. I dare you to try.