COLUMN: Coffee house meditations

I have regularly as of late stationed myself in Java City with a cup of coffee (60 percent cream, 40 percent coffee), a newspaper and a handful of mini-straws, which I pick up instinctively, and roll around idly on the table, one at a time, with a single finger. One eye occasionally glances up at the door; I'm waiting for a guest. I've been waiting for him for six months now.

Granted, I never have had any hope of him appearing. I don't even think he exists.

His name is Jesus. I invited him out for a cup of joe the spring semester of my sophomore year. At which point, I would buy us both caramel macchiatos, and we would talk about the universe, my future and maybe even his views on American politics. It's simply my quirky way of staying open to Christianity. Getting on my knees, saying the prayer on the laminated card and waiting for my entire life to change was getting stale. Coffee I could do though, and I thought perhaps Jesus could have been a coffee person, too.

If not, he's always welcome to drop me a note. I'm always open to Dog Central or Buffalo Wild Wings.

Here's where I used to meet Jesus at, every week. On Monday was a small group meeting with His House. On Tuesday, Bible study with Campus Crusades For Christ. On Thursday, a two-hour His House Service, followed by a two-hour Campus Crusade For Christ service. On Sunday, an hour-long His House service. At which point, I would start the process all over again.

Deconverting, naturally, was awkward as hell.

Six of my friends, individually, set up lunch meetings with me last year, and told me I was going to hell. I don't hold it against them; they told me because they cared. I appreciate that. There wasn't much else to talk about; our friendship was defined by our faith, and, without that connection, well, small talk can only take one so far.

I've always wondered where I would be if I never lost faith. Probably somewhere completely different. I was seriously considering becoming a pastor before I dropped Jesus, and, therefore, my life trajectory changed. On my "to-do" checklist is to go back in time to my freshman year and ride the crisis of faith out. Maybe this time, stay with Christianity and wait and see.

But, I don't think I'd enjoy that trajectory as much. I attended my first His House in two years last month. After a mandatory conversation with my old small group leader, I settled in with a strong sense of nostalgia.

It struck me that this was the first His House service I attended where I felt confident in myself as a person. I never really found myself until after I moved past Christianity. It wasn't because I didn't know who I was and it wasn't because I didn't know what I stood for, it was because after I became an atheist, I was able to gain confidence in who I was and have confidence in what I stood for.

Christianity always had a thing with discouraging pride, telling you to surrender yourself to a higher power. But I got past desperate midnights much healthier when I learned to call on myself, instead of God.

Still, I'm no snob. That caramel macchiato is sitting there whenever Jesus wants it. I'll be in the back, rolling around mini-straws.


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