Of Coffee Cups and Hearts

I will admit it.  I have an obsession with coffee cups.  From the really great Starbucks ceramic travel mugs with the cool designs on them, to the unique and special hand-turned pottery mugs that can only be bought directly from the artist.  I love coffee cups.  And coffee.  But, that is a different story for a different day.

I come from a long line of coffee drinkers.  Coffee was a part of family functions, church functions and everyday life.  Pots and pots of coffee daily.  It was even one of my after school chores to start the coffee before my parents came home from work.

When I was in early elementary school, maybe 7 or 8 years old, my school set up a little bazaar in the gym one day around Christmas.  It was the kind of bazaar where all manner of little chachki (actually spelled tchotchke…who but Google knew that?) gifts could be purchased for a couple of dollars.  I remember searching those tables for the perfect gifts for my dad.  It was a tough thing for me to do because I wanted to buy the perfect gift.  I finally settled on a coffee mug with words on the side that said  “#1 Dad” or “World’s Best Dad” or some sort of similar message.  I was so sure my dad would love it and find it just as special as I did.  I don’t remember giving it to him, though I’m sure I gave it to him that day because I could never wait to give my gifts.

What I do remember about that mug is this:  One day later on, it could have been weeks or even a few months, we were all up and around the house getting ready for school and work.  I was in the kitchen with my dad.  He was pouring himself a cup of coffee in that prized mug and he was mad.  What he was mad about, I do not recall.  What I do recall is that in a moment of rage, my dad threw that mug full of hot coffee right past me where it shattered against the kitchen wall.

I was heartbroken.  I was crushed.  I was devastated.

I wasn’t upset that he had thrown hot coffee at me.  I was heartbroken that he had irreparably broken the mug that I had found and given to him as a symbol of my love and affection.  That mug was not just a mug to me.  It was my heart.  So, when my dad shattered that mug, he shattered my little girl heart.  The one man on this earth that I should have been able to trust implicitly with my heart had proven himself to be untrustworthy.  That relationship dynamic with my father set the tone not just for how I relate to men in my life, but to the way I relate to The Father.

Years later, when I was 19 years old, I met the love of my life.  Our first holiday as a couple was Valentine’s Day.  What do you think I bought for the special man in my life?  You guessed it – a coffee mug.  It was a white mug with a tic-tac-toe of hearts on the side that said, “You’ve Won My Heart.”

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22 years later, my husband still has that mug.  He just told a friend about the mug the other day because he happened to have it with him at work.  22 years later, through trips back and forth to work, through car wrecks, through drops and bangs, that mug has survived without so much as a chip or crack.  Amazing.

22 years later, through good times and bad, that man has cherished that mug and my heart just the way I had wanted my dad to so many years ago.  He has day after day, on good days and bad, been a reminder and an example to me that not all men are like my dad.

The Lord recently reminded me of these two very different mugs, these two very different men and their vastly different responses to being entrusted with special gifts – like coffee mugs and girls’ hearts.  The Lord used these experiences to show me that He alone redeems the brokenness in me.  That He “will repay me for the years the locusts have eaten.” (Joel 2:25 NIV)  The Lord continues to show me that HE treasures me, that HE loves me and values my heart.  And, if I could just give the Lord a very precious coffee mug, He would not throw it across the room and shatter it as if it meant nothing.  22 years later, HE would be talking to a friend about the day I gave Him a precious gift.

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