Finding Identity In A Cup

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Finding Identity In A Cup

My how times have changed. I've been saying that a lot it because I'm getting older? Probably. It's something we have to say once we hit 35 and every year after that. We also have to tell our kids to, "Turn that down, it's too loud!"

Yet, seriously, I remember a time when things were different. A time when we treated people with more respect than we do now (thanks to social media which allows us to throw around insults without looking people in the eyes when we throw them). A time when we took time to enjoy our life in lieu of running around over-scheduled all the time. A time when our identity came from actual important factors in our life, such as our beliefs, morals and values. Most of these things have changed over time and now, the important reality of what defines and identifies us has been dwindled down to finding our identity and belief system from a cup.

A paper coffee cup to be exact.

Wow. Deep. Pinch me.

As I write this, I am amazed at how much attention Starbucks has recently gained over their seasonal "holiday" papers cups. All because they are red. Well, ombre in red tones to be exact. The other disturbing fact in all of this, is that the complaining is coming from Christians.

Now hold up - don't stop reading yet. I, myself, am a Christian. Not just by name, but by lifestyle. I don't like to think of myself as religious, because in reality that means I follow a bunch of rules formed by man and live however I want. I prefer to define my belief in God as a relationship that is based on Love, Grace and Faith.

Anyhoo, I might have digressed from the point of this post.

A cup. A red cup.

This cup has caused much controversy in the religious minds of men and women across the United States. Maybe even the world. Hopefully it hasn't spread that far.

The nerve of a company to diminish the meaning of the Christmas season by serving their hot beverages in a red cup. A cup, that in year's past, has donned designs such as snowflakes, ornaments, reindeer and even doves. Those designs obviously shout "Christmas" and "The Birth of Christ", so it's okay to drink out of those, but a simple red ombre cup? Blasphemy.

Wait, what?

The other day I sat in church and I had a small hot coffee in my hand, which was nice because it was freezing that morning. This coffee was provided by the church we attend, I did not stop at any coffee chain to get this delish warmth in a cup. So, as I sat in church listening to the message (yes, I actually listen to what is being taught...I'm not so perfect that I am above listening to a pastor) I happened to glance down at the paper cup in my hand and notice that it was just white. No ornaments. No reindeer. No snowflakes. Not even ombre white. Just white.

Do you want to know that strangest thing? I did not in any way feel offended. I wasn't angry at the church for providing a blank white cup that could possibly signify that this season had no meaning what-so-ever. Maybe it could have signified snow, which when you think about it, really doesn't have anything to do with celebrating the birth of Christ. Maybe it signified that old hymn that says, 'O' the blood of Jesus, it washes white as snow.' Or, maybe the white cup was chosen because it was the most cost effective cup to buy at Costco in bulk.

Who knows what the meaning behind the cup was, but none the less, I did not feel offended on any level. Maybe because I never saw the correlation of drinking coffee relating to celebrating the Christmas season. It's just something you enjoy during the season. Like ice skating.

In fact, I had this great revelation as I sat there staring at this blank, white cup. I realized that my life is not defined by 'things'. I've never defined who I am by the clothes I wear, the car I drive, the house I live in - or by the cup I'm drinking out of. I like to think that I have defined my life by how I live it. How do I treat people? What do I believe AND do I actually live by those values? Do I love people the way I, as a Christian, am told to love people? Do I give of my time, finances and prayers to help those around me? Do I get easily offended? Everyone should read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 in the Amplified Version - it will disrupt your life completely - but in a good way. Do I believe the best of every person, or am I always on the lookout for the bad? Do I forgive others when they have wronged me or those I love or do I hold onto anger, bitterness and resentment - as if I'm better than other people and they are undeserving of grace and forgiveness? Do I place more importance on silly seasonal decorations than I do The One the season is truly about and the people who surround me?

To think that I, as a Christian, would become offended because a company has chosen to have red seasonal paper cups, just baffles me. May I also add that these cups, once the beverage is consumed, get thrown in the trash. They are objects. They are not holy and sacred. They are a paper cup that you drink a hot beverage out of. Why would you get offended over this? When I go to Wal-Mart and their carts aren't covered in signs that declare we are celebrating the birth of Christ - I don't go cray-cray and boycott Wal-Mart. When I decide to have dinner at Chili's and the napkins they give us are white, I don't cause a scene demanding to know why my napkins aren't adorned with scenes from the nativity the night Jesus was born.

No. I choose to let my life be defined by how I believe and how I choose to live out those beliefs for all to see. Not by objects. Not by cups. Not by somebody's opinion. My identity does not come from things.

Life is better this way. Happier. More fulfilling.

Instead of causing a stir over these cups, boycotting these companies for the season, then hitting their drive-thru everyday once the New Year begins and their cups are white again - why not bless the people who work there? If you typically frequent these places, be kind when you order. Smile and say, "thank you". Say "Merry Christmas!", "Have a good day!" or even ask, "How are you?" After all, the world doesn't revolve around you, you know that right?. Clean up after yourself and throw your cup, whatever color it may be, in the trash can when you're done. Don't be the person who finds fault and reads into every little thing. People who do that are usually miserable and unwilling to change anything about themselves.

I know you're probably thinking that I have some vested interest in Starbucks and that's why I'm saying all of this. The truth is, I am never a customer of Starbucks. Haven't been for over three years. Not because of my issues with the cups they serve their beverages in (because, truly, beautiful snowflakes and doves are pretty), but because I personally think their products aren't healthy. They seem more like chemicals in a cup instead of coffee - no matter what color that cup is. From GMO coffee beans, to dairy from conventional cattle, to artificial and chemically laden ingredients that make their beverages ones that I won't consume. Even if they served their drinks in cups that said, "We love Jesus!", "Jesus is the reason for the season!" or even "We celebrate the birth of Christ!" I wouldn't drink their coffee. I guess that's the health coach in me - more concerned with what's in the cup than the color of the cup.

Why even write this post when there are thousands of other articles about this very subject? I am writing this post to make people think about things differently. Challenging people to think about how they define their life and what they deem truly important. Maybe we could think about exemplifying what we really believe in, instead of always being a fault-finder and against everything and everyone and at the same time living in complete hypocrisy of how we should be living and acting. Just sayin'.

This Christmas season I will probably enjoy some coffee, not in a red cup from Starbucks, but from somewhere that also uses a paper cup. Maybe it will be green, white or even red. I will drink my coffee, throw my cup away and go out and live my life to the fullest, not letting trivial things steal my joy - or my witness. I will tell people, "Merry Christmas!" I will go ice skating with my kids. I will donate our coats that no longer fit to an organization that will give them to people who need it. I will invite my family and friends over to my home and bless them with food, music, laughter and memories - probably with a lot of hugging and "I love you!" being said. I will serve my homemade hot cocoa and cinnamon lattes in ceramic mugs that are solid colors as well. No Christmas trees, doves or reindeer on them. No "Jesus is the reason for the season" written on it. Just plain single colored mugs. And I'm sure everyone will enjoy their evening and go home not the least bit offended, that I, a Christians, served them something to drink in a single colored cup during the Christmas season.

Maybe you find what I have to say irrelevant or maybe it makes you mad, because you think I should be concerned with this red cup. If that's you, I do apologize, but there are a lot more issues I find more vital in life at this season of my life than what color Starbucks made their cups this year. I will spend no more time on this subject and instead take time to pray for the people of France and Europe. In fact I will pray for all the people on this earth, including the United States of America. I will uphold all those in the Military who won't be coming home this Christmas season and I will wake up each day thankful for the breath in my lungs, the family and friends that surround me, the freedoms we are blessed with in this country and I will choose to live each day intentionally and on purpose, not taking one moment for granted and definitely not wasting my most valuable asset, time, on trivial matters. But that's just me.

Oh, by the way, Merry Christmas! May your heart be filled with Joy this season and may you all know and experience how wonderful it is to celebrate our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is because of Him that I have the ability to enjoy life to it's fullest, not walking in offense, bitterness or strife. He also doesn't mind people drinking coffee out of a red cup! This is the good life!


A Christian NOT Defined By A Red Cup