This is a story to the glory of Jesus Christ.
For full background on my eating disorder, head HERE.
Jesus has victory over this area and every hardship.
At the beginning of my university experience, I often went to the Starbucks near my campus. After a while, one of the baristas there, his name tag clearly reading Scotty, knew my order, which was always just a venti chai tea. Drinking only tea was definitely a decision of my eating disorder.
Scotty was always such a light. I looked forward to my quick chats with him. He was unconditionally kind and warm, and inspired me even more than I already was to want to be a barista.
One time, I ordered a soy cappuccino. This was a major breakthrough for me in terms of reintroducing foods. Scotty was surprised and said something to the effect of “good for you, this is much more exciting.”
A year of university passed, and in the summer, I applied for and got a job as a barista at a different Starbucks. I trained and am now a barista.
A few months into working there, I had a shift with a guy named Kevin, who picked up a shift at my store. During the shift, we made small talk and I remember telling him my university major was “theology” rather than Christian studies. I was so convicted of that that night, wondering what on earth had compelled me to leave the Christ, the importance, out of my program title.
The next day, Kevin was just finishing a shift as I was coming in to work, randomly early. We talked in the back room where he asked me, “what’s your program again?” To which I said, “Christian Studies,” and he said, “wait, Christian? You’re a Christian?” prompting one of the most refreshing and Spirit-aligned conversations of my life. We talked about the ultimate power of Jesus Christ and how worship and right relationship with His present Spirit trumps the unwelcomeness and judgement that many churches thwart. Among other things. And I learned about his family: that he had a little sister and two older brothers, all of them having worked at Starbucks. (Which Starbucks? Scott?) I learned, to no surprise, that Scott was his brother.
He also mentioned, “you should talk more to Jess, she works here and she’s amazing and pursuing Christ!”
I didn’t see Kevin for many months but remembered and spoke about how encouraged I was by our conversation and the Lord’s power in him.
This past summer, a few months later, I went into a different Starbucks with my sister and we both ordered frappuccinos. I ordered mine soy and “light.” A beautiful, tall, long-haired barista that I had seen in that Starbucks before, and had seen in my Starbucks before picking up milk, was on bar (drink-making), and made a mistake on my drink, made eye contact with me, and sweetly apologized, quickly remaking it “light.” I noted how tired she looked. I sensed a numbness in her movements. I often analyze people in their expressions, wondering if they have an eating disorder, and had a bad feeling about this barista, who, despite clear lack of energy was so clearly kind-hearted.
A few weeks later, I finally worked with Jess, who Kevin had mentioned. I told Jess that I’d talked to Kevin and that I was a Christian and we had an awesome shift. Jess and I worked together for a few weeks and she was so intentional about asking me to hang out, and we went for coffee one day. In the span of one coffee date, we told each other our stories and testimonies. The comfort we felt with each other is just such a testament to who the Lord is, and we laughed and had so much fun together. Jess is one of the funniest people I know.
She also told me then that she was quitting Starbucks in the next few weeks as she was moving about 20 minutes away for school. I told her I really hoped we’d stay in touch!
A few months went by again, and Jess and I texted here and there. Midway through September, I was hanging out at home with Maddie, and we got a random Facebook invite to a youth church called Creekside that was holding a worship event called Vivid that night in a few hours. Busses left our university at 6:30, and we decided to go! We of course detoured to Starbucks, which ended up taking a little longer than expected after we’d already paid. We saw the bus a long way down the street, which seemed to be stopped and waiting. A few meters away, the doors closed, and Maddie RAN to the bus, telling me when we got on that she was overcome and “really wanted to go.”
The bus driver saw us and we headed to the event. It was so cool to see so many Christians, some people I hadn’t seen in a while from my high school, and soon JESS! I was so excited to see her. Soon, a familiar girl wandered over to us and greeted Jess, who Jess introduced to us as her best friend Kathryn. “I recognize you” I said immediately.
“I recognize you too!” Kathryn said.
“You both work at Starbucks,” Jess said, and I told Kathryn that I was pretty sure I’d seen her working before… Remembering that she was the long-haired barista who’d remade my drink.
It didn’t take long until I saw Kevin, who remembered me, too, and, to which I had forgotten, was close friends with Jess… AND, I soon learned, Kathryn’s big brother! In talking to Kevin and Kathryn, Maddie soon learned that one of her best friends from high school was their cousin… we all quickly got that “small world” feeling.
The very next day, Kathryn added and messaged me on Facebook, so warmly saying she really wanted to get to know me better and go for coffee. We set up a time and met up after a shift of mine at my Starbucks. The way we talk, and relate, and laugh, and think…. we were automatically so similar and I had this overcome feeling that I’d known Kathryn forever. Soon, Kathryn told me that there was something she’d wanted to talk to me about, and proceeded to tell me that among other things, she’d been struggling with anorexia for a year and a half, and that only her boyfriend and Jess knew. It wasn’t long before we were both in tears and I was wondering why on earth she was telling me, a stranger, this. She said that she’d found my blog, on top of Jess having told her “you’d really like Cassie from my Starbucks, you guys should hang out.”
Kathryn and I talked for HOURS. Relating and sharing the depths of our hearts. I told her my story and how I’d recovered. And by the end of the night, she’d agreed that we’d tell Kevin the next night, together. And Christ in Kathryn pushed through her fear as I told her “a step at a time. I remember EXACTLY what it feels like to be where you are. Recovery is not easy, but it is so good and so necessary.”
The next night, we asked Kevin to hang out and meet for coffee at his Starbucks. We chatted for a bit and soon, Kathryn braved telling him about her disorder. Kevin was shocked, and sad, and I interjected as I could to explain my experience and how crucial Kathryn’s physical health is at this point. The next step, we agreed, was telling Kathryn’s parents, which Kathryn wanted me, Kevin, and her boyfriend Matt there for.
Kathryn asked her parents to have us over to dinner. The night before we planned this, I accompanied Kathryn to a Toronto Starbucks where she needed to pick up 55 mugs for a friend’s wedding gift. A drive that should be about an hour became a 3 hour drive– and this Starbucks, being in a business building, closed a 7. We spent the car ride talking and learning more and more about each other and cracking jokes and time flew by– but by 10 after 7, we were stuck in blue Jays traffic with dead phones and nowhere to park, and the Starbucks was already closed.
“Should we give up?” Kathryn said, exhausted.
I was about to say yes, but thought about that question in a much bigger sense than mugs. “No, we shouldn’t.” And sharing in Kathryn’s frustration, I felt the Lord on my heart. LORD, please provide through this. Use this for your good. Guide us so that we can accomplish this in a way that reflects you.
Soon, we found the building and the parking garage beneath it. Parked. Rushed up the stairs and to the Starbucks, where three stressed-looking baristas were hurrying to close everything up.
Kathryn explained our plight and asked that they might please be able to cash out her mugs, which were ordered to the store. The barista spent some time flustered– he didn’t think they had the mugs, his tills were closed anyway so he couldn’t make any transactions. Kathryn said that she had made the drive once before and been so close, but had come after 7 and the barista refused to restart the tills (understandably; we both know the barista life). We noted how busy he must have felt and bonded with him. Pretty soon, he had called his manager, located the mugs, and was going out of his way to restart the tills and run through the transaction. And Kathryn and I, laughing all the way, brought 55 mugs down to her car. Marvelling at the sense of humour our Lord has!
After thanking the barista and snapping a pic with him, I reminded Kathryn that both of us needed dinner. It being late, we both agreed that eating was the last thing we wanted to do. DONT GIVE UP, I remembered. And I knew that I needed to be the example Christ needed me to. We found, one floor up, an AMAZING little market called Marche. If you ever are in Toronto, go here. You must, it was so cool! You could walk around and there was SO much food to choose from and it was so cool. Both Kathryn and I opted for salads. I prayed over our food, and pretty soon had something very clear and important on my heart.
“We need to come back here one day. But we’re not allowed to come back here until both of us are ordering exactly what WE want. The devil’s suggestions unwelcome.” Fearfully, Kathryn agreed. And beyond the fear in her eyes, I promise you I saw joy. That is what one sees every time they look at Kathryn: a Jesus loving girl who has been wrongly taken over.
The next night, last night, was dinner with Kathryn’s parents, Kevin, and her boyfriend Matt. We relaxed and spent the entire meal just laughing. I felt anxious in seeing Kathryn’s difficulty to laugh or smile or react in any way to anything funny or happy beyond the disorder’s constant twisting… saw how much Matt was affected by this but the LOVE and SUPPORT in his eyes… Thought of Johnny…
a lot was going through my mind.
And when Kathryn finally got it out, explaining it well, we were all extremely emotional. In tears, I told her parents my story. And the pain and shock and fear, the Lord quickly turned into awe as we explained how we’d been brought together. How He had already beat this and has made it clear that He would continue to in both of us. How my long distance from Johnny means that he can be support but also motivation for truly reviving my fun-loving, real self, and how Kathryn had taken the year off school– perfect for recovery. How he and Matt might help each other with the frustration in that that Kathryn and I can’t understand.
Kathryn’s mom and my mom are going to meet for coffee, and she is going to treatment as soon as her name is next on the wait list. And I am SO proud of her.
And I see so much of me in her, and I remember being in her position. I pray that I can see her more and more the way Christ does, and that He shows me where He needs to use me.
Ultimately, we are never alone. And He will do whatever He needs to, often, to win our hearts.
This is a story to the glory of Jesus Christ.