Thinking about being disordered.

A few years ago, I found the Lystra Tea Company. Tim, the barista, was helpful. I decided that one of our conversations fit what I’m feeling at the moment. It may be helpful to you, too.


“How can I help you?” Tim said. We’d been sitting quietly at Lystra Tea Company. The coffee was perfect. The quiet was perfect, too.

Sometimes, it’s hard for me to create a quiet place. I keep moving, keep listening, keep busy, keep distracting. Sometimes it takes someone we trust sitting quietly with us to give us permission to be still.

Eventually, about halfway through the mug, there may be a time to speak, and the right words. Tim had years of service as a pastor and apparently a barista. He could tell when it was time.

“I’m disordered,” I said. I sat back. The word just tumbled out, but it was the best word I could find. After a season of grief and confusion and deadlines and disruption, I realized that the patterns that I’d developed had been disrupted.

Tim smiled. “I knew that,” he said. “When someone shows up regularly and then disappears, there is dis-order in their lives somewhere. It may be schedule, may be crises, may be some something else, but for people who are accustomed to coffee, I can tell.”

“Great,” I said. “You barely know me and know things are messed up. I bet everyone knows.”

Tim leaned forward. “Messed up? That’s a long way from disordered. You aren’t messed up, not as in failing, not as in ‘not measuring up.’ Think through what your family has been walking through. You aren’t messed up. You are grieving. But the result is that your life is dis-ordered. And that can be helped.”

He sat back in his chair. “And the people who love you love you.”

I sipped the cool coffee in the bottom of the mug.

“Thanks,” I said. “I need to order more coffee. And some order.”

Tim started boiling more water and cleaned out the press.

“Remember,” he said.

“Remember what?”

“‘Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David.’” Tim said. 

“That’s what my mentor always did. He reminded me of the words that are at the core. You can’t get re-ordered until you remember your orientation, your calling, your direction, your foundation. And you need to rebuild the routines that will help you remember.”

He brought the coffee.

“The right steps of hot water, fresh grounds, the right time brewing, all lead to the coffee in front of you. And if you want the coffee, you need to walk through the routines again.”

I must have looked lost and hopeful.

“Here’s a suggestion,” Tim said. “Try it for a week. 20.20.20. Spend 20 minutes reading and praying. Spend 20 minutes reading something other than the Bible. And spend 20 minutes running. Every morning. And let me know what happens to your disorder.”

He moved back to the counter, leaving me space to think.

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