Alright, alright. No need to lie to me. Half of you opened this blog post because you don’t think I can actually give up coffee, and the other half of you opened this blog post because you think this title is some clickbait and not actually truth.
Well, it is.
Starting on March 1, 2017, I will spend 365 days drinking Just Water. Let me be a little more specific in case you’re a bit confused:
No hot chocolate.
No unsweet tea and lemonade.
Last weekend, I drove six hours south to Lynchburg, Virginia to volunteer at CALLED, a retreat for high schoolers all over the state of Virginia. I led a small group last year and watched kids’ lives change in front of me and this year I knew that it was worth the drive and the vacation days to do this once more.
The keynote speaker of the weekend was Brooklyn Lindsey, founder of The Justice Movement. The Justice Movement is a celebration of the world, of Jesus’ world, of the world of young people making a difference. It is built, founded, created on compassion and justice. Part of The Justice Movement is the “Just Water Challenge,” a challenge full of hope and full of nothing but clean water to help fight for the 783 MILLION PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD who do not have access to clean water. Every time I turn on a faucet or open my water bottle, I do not ever have to wonder if the water waiting for me is clean. Did you know that every 21 seconds, a child dies from water-related causes – 80% of all sickness in this world is caused by unclean water. I take for granted the knowledge that my life is not on the line every day because the water I’m lucky enough to drink is clean and free of contamination, but I am far blessed and I know that you and I are the minority in this equation.
Just two days prior to this retreat, I spoke at the youth group I volunteer with about a time a little girl in the Dominican Republic shared her one cup of clean water with me. As I sat in the back row of this room full of hundreds of high schoolers in Virginia, Brooklyn asked each of them to take this challenge: 7 days, 40 days, or 365 days. We were told to pick randomly, but I didn’t want to pick randomly. I wanted to pick 365 days. I wanted to go a year drinking just water, a year without coffee. I felt a connection between the story I shared a few days before and the challenge presenting itself to me now. I felt the Lord shaking me and telling me to do it.
It’s important to note how hypocritical I sounded. As I promised myself, South Asia, and the Lord the fact that I was going to go a year drinking just water, I took a sip of hot chocolate from my Hydroflask. Not two hours later, I was sitting in a diner at a table with two of my best friends, drinking multiple cups of coffee, only to then buy another one from a cafe for my drive north moments later. I’m addicted to coffee, it’s become part of who I am.
But a bigger part of who I am? My desire to change the world. A year drinking solely water will be extremely difficult. I will want to quit. I will want to buy a peppermint latte or a drip coffee every time I go sit in a coffeeshop to write, I will want to drink a Yeungling while eating wings and pizza and watching a football game. But I won’t. Because I’m drinking just clean water to fight for those who don’t have the same opportunity.
This is where you come in. While I can give up coffee, my heart cannot change the world alone. You can visit The Justice Movement site to read more about the organization and you can visit my fundraising page to donate and support my year. My goal is $814, which also happens to be how much money it would cost to buy one Grande Pike Place roast coffee with a splash of cream every single day for the next year. That’s $2.23 a coffee, which may seem like not much, but 365 of those coffees add up and get us one person closer to ridding our world of the global water crisis.
I closed my eyes and said “when do I begin?” and the first day that crossed my mind is “March 1.” March 1, 2017, which also happens to be the first day of the season of Lent, will be the first day of my year drinking Just Water. This leaves me 3.5 months to convince my mind that I do not need coffee to survive, and to get me many dollars closer to my goal.
So, do you think this is a good enough reason for Emily to give up coffee?