What Will You Do With This One, Fragile Life?
Life is Fragile
This post isn't necessarily about tangible steps we're taking to build Bridge City Coffee, but rather why we are building it. It's different than the other posts, but I think that's a good thing at this point in the process. This is also the most personal one, which is difficult, so bear with me.
My wife and I just returned from a 2 week trip to Portugal for our anniversary, which was much needed. The last few years have been full of a lot of pain and frustration while learning difficult, but necessary, lessons. To be sure there were good things in there as well, but it seemed dominated by difficulties. To stay true with our commitment to be as transparent as possible, the trip was also very timely for us since my wife and I recently had a miscarriage. Our move to Greenville was made for a handful of reasons but the main one was to get a better handle on our lives so we didn't just continue treading water to barely stay afloat. Needless to say, having a miscarriage right after that was a huge punch in the gut. But it wasn't even a regular one. It was more like you just finished a marathon and are trying to catch your breath from all the running, then out of nowhere you get sucker punched right in the gut. So Portugal was much needed. Then the morning I woke up after getting back I find out a friend from college died in a freak medical accident just 5 months after getting married. Literally right as I am writing this my sister just texted me that my uncle died. Life is a bitch sometimes. But it can also be beautiful, and fragile. Sometimes, even in the midst of pain and confronting our mortality, all I need to remind me of the beauty in life is to see my daughter smile and to hear her laugh. That little girl has the power to heal a multitude of pain for me.
I don't believe truth is relative - it is absolute. But so many things we label as truth, and therefore believe are absolute, are in reality not. I'm a Christian. Simply reading that statement likely elicits one of a handful of reactions: "Cool, I am too! I can probably keep reading these posts and trust what this guy says." "Christian...hmmm...wonder what that actually means. Is he the right kind of Christian? He better not write anything liberal or in support of gays or he's not for real." "Oh, Christian. Probably a weirdo, not going to read this anymore."
I've struggled with publicly identifying as a Christian on this blog. Not because I am ashamed of believing in Christ and spending my life trying to follow Him. Rather, if you're just reading this online and we don't know each other it's easy for you to filter everything else I say through a preconceived notion of what a Christian is to you. And to be honest, I am ashamed of being associated with the well-earned predominantly negative perception of Christians. There were times in my life I likely contributed to that stereotype but I have long since distanced myself from those actions. I would wager everything I own that Jesus did not want His followers to be known as Westboro Baptist is or as an oppressive, judgemental religion. Anyone with half a brain can read through the Gospels and understand that. He also nowhere says that science is evil, Democrats are going to hell, or that Baptists are best. I love science, astronomy, don't prescribe to a particular denomination, and have two close friends who are gay that I don't believe are going to hell simply based on their sexual orientation. All topics for another time, maybe an in person meeting at the Trappe Door if anyone wants to do that. All that to say, I believe Christianity is so much more than an oppressive, exclusive, stale religion. I believe it is an inclusive, revitalizing, compassionate, forgiving explanation for why we are here, how we are supposed to live, and why the universe is so amazing and complex.
Bringing It All Together
How does all of this relate to Bridge City Coffee? It relates because we want to build something truly impactful for the individuals who drink our coffee, follow us on social media, or walk through the doors of our shop by operating as a loving, wise representation of the way we believe Christ wants us to live. That just happens to be through the means of a coffee roastery and (future) shop. To be honest, building something like that is a really hard thing to do. Because as Jesus, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King Jr all proved in different ways, you can't please all the people all the time.
It's difficult to know how to hold the tension of standing firm and turning the other cheek as an individual, let alone an entire business. We are called to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves and to remember that while we are never to compromise the absolute, unbending truth we believe in, there is also a time for everything, which sometimes includes simply listening to someone rather than being forceful with them - Proverbs 25:11-14. Above all that, one who professes to be a Christian is to remember that even if we are the most eloquent and convincing speakers, or understand the mysteries of the universe and excel in academia, or even have faith strong enough to move mountains while giving away everything to the poor -- even if we die for something, if we don't have love we gain nothing.
Well, now you know a large part of what is driving us to build Bridge City. Love is a tall order. It involves sometimes being submissive and looking like fools while at other points involves being bold and declarative about things we'd rather not be for the sake of someone else hearing the truth. We will falter and fall short at times but we're damn well going to move forward trying to make this world a better place for people who need a leg up -- from the farmers we work with, to our employees, to the customers who drink our coffee. Life is too short and fragile to not add some more beauty and love to it.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.