Thursday, July 18, 2013

Life Update - Part 2

Can I just say that I am really nervous to write this post? This is probably one of the most challenging posts that I have yet to write. Mainly because you can't convey tone over a computer screen, and this is a difficult topic to address. But, I trust that God has put it on my heart to share this very big life change with you all for a reason. And so, into the tricky territory we go. 

The topic that I'm discussing today? Alcohol. 

And before we even get started, I want to clarify that I am talking about my personal relationship with alcohol. I am so tempted to go even further with this disclaimer, but I'm going to leave it at that. This is my story, take it as you will. 

Almost two months ago, I heard this incredible sermon on alcohol & the Christian. Seriously, it's amazing. If you have 53 minutes and 21 seconds, I highly suggest listening to it. It might surprise you with what the message says about how Christians are called to deal with alcohol. 

One of my biggest takeaways from this sermon was how the gospel frees us. That's one of the beautiful gifts of the gospel, right? Freedom. Christ paid the price for us, and we are free to undeservingly reap the benefit. 

So what does this freedom mean in regards to alcohol? Well, it means that we are free to partake, and enjoy this unique type of beverage. No where in the bible does it say you must never drink alcohol. On the contrary, it says that we are accepted by God through faith, and that will not change with an alcoholic beverage in hand. 

The gospel also, however, frees us to abstain. And some of us are called to do just that. Some of us have drinking problems, addictions even. And through the gospel, we are freed from the bondage of alcohol. 

There are others of us, though, who do not have drinking problems. We may not struggle with addiction, and yet God may still call us to abstain. He has his reasons, and we may never understand. But regardless the reason, the gospel will free us to abstain, just as it may free others to partake. 

As I sat and listened to this sermon, I strongly felt the freedom to partake. I had struggled with alcohol in the past, but I was currently walking in a season of responsible drinking. And therefore, I felt perfectly convinced that alcohol did not affect my ability to walk in the Spirit. 

It had interfered with my walk in the past, though. I had previously turned to alcohol for comfort. Not even alcohol itself, or the feeling of being drunk. But instead, I turned to the social setting that alcohol provided. I turned to the constant affirmations that I received while drinking. 
"You're so fun!" "You're so cool!" "I love hanging out with you!" 

And even beyond that, I turned to the attention that I got from men while drinking. I turned to the flirtatious nature that occurs, the compliments that come, and yes, even the physical intimacy that can come from one too many drinks. 

I am not proud to admit these things, but they're true. They're a part of my past, mainly the part before I truly met Christ. But I would be lying if I said there was no overlap. It wasn't quite as black and white as I would have hoped. I had a lot of deeply ingrained habits, and these habits didn't go away over night. 

This habit of turning to the social setting of drinking for comfort, confirmation and affirmation was one that took a long, long time to go away. 

But as I sat listening to this sermon, I thought it had. I thought I was free, free to partake without idolizing the atmosphere that alcohol brings. 

Until the celebration of my birthday. 


What started as a fun day of wine tasting didn't end that way. I found myself staring straight at a girl that I thought I left behind. Hence, this post

I am not saying that alcohol is bad. I am not even saying that getting drunk is bad. But, I am saying that for me, it is. For me, that one drink too far can take me into a dark, dark place. And that one drink isn't necessarily the drink that makes me "drunk." Sometimes, one drink is all it takes to get there. Other times, it's more. 

But quite frankly, that place scares me. That place where I willingly stray from God's voice. That place where I can look Him straight in the face, and say God, You are not the comfort that I want right now. 

I woke up the morning of my birthday feeling so incredibly disappointed with myself. 
I felt so unworthy of God's love. And that is a horrible feeling that I wish on none of you. 

But, I learned two things on that day. God so graciously tore through the walls of my guilt, shame, and regret to scream His truth into my ears. 

And what did He scream to me? 

One: You are NOT defined by your mistakes!

We all make mistakes. Sometimes they're made soberly, sometimes drunkenly. But regardless, we are not identified by our mistakes. We are not even identified by our accomplishments!

We are identified by Christ, and Christ alone! And I cannot even express how difficult it was for Him to drill that truth into my head. But the fact is, I was the same daughter of Christ that I was before my birthday celebration as I was after. 

Nothing can change that, nothing. 

And two: You are free to abstain!

He took me back to that sermon that I had heard back in May. He reminded me of the words, and more importantly, He reminded me of their truth. 

I am free to abstain! That washed over me with such peace as I realized that if alcohol turns me into a person that I don't want to be, I don't have to drink it! 

Sure, it may be a huge part of the culture around me, but that doesn't matter. My God is the most powerful thing in this universe, and if He says that He will help me abstain, then I believe Him. 

And so, as of my 24th birthday, I am no longer drinking alcohol. I now have a more tangible understanding of the Christian freedom that the gospel brings, and I could not be more thankful.


17 comments:

Rach @ This Italian Family said...

You are definitely free to abstain. And if anyone makes you feel less than for choosing not to drink, then that is on THEM not you.

For me personally, I don't drink. There are so many reasons. Ranging from the example I want to set for the kids I mentor to the fact that alcohol isn't good for me (I mean, it's not exactly healthy for anyone, haha, but I have a heart condition so I am supposed to limit my alcohol intake anyway). I struggle with self control and stopping when I am satisfied (with food especially) and I don't want to risk that with something as addictive as alcohol (especially if it can screw up my heart). Plus so often I speak without thinking already. I tend to be lacking that filter I need, ha! Anyway, I'm not sure what I might say or do if my inhibitions were lifted even more. I don't want to hand my self control over to alcohol (or even caffeine for that matter). I don't know that I would have a problem with alcohol, but I also don't know that I wouldn't either. So for me, I just choose to abstain.

Haha! Like I said... there are many reasons I abstain. ;) But I also am not here to judge anyone else who does drink. Just for me, I don't. :)

Eleanor Harte said...

Once again, I think you're amazing! "God, you are not the comfort I want right now." What a *powerful* statement and I think we'd all be sorry to admit we've totally been in that place, whether it's with alcohol or something else. And I totally know what you're talking about with the "overlap" too.

Good for you for making this choice! Personally, I'm not 21 until March, so I can't drink yet. I'm actually spending the spring semester in Paris (hopefully!) so I will be able to drink starting in January. I'm planning on drinking casually, but who knows if I will come to the same conclusion as you one day! I appreciate you not making this post seem judge-y; your sweet and genuine heart shines through the whole thing!

Pamela said...

Oh, I love this! This is a struggle for me. My senior year in high school, I stayed drunk all the time. Alcoholism runs in my family. Quite scary! As I've gotten older & matured, I know that is not the lifestyle for me. I know that is not what God wants me to do. Now I do love wine, but I do not get drunk. I do not choose to get drunk, nor do I want to. God says in the Bible to not be a drunkard! I think Christians struggle with this. Jesus drank wine. I think it's okay, especially if you're not out getting drunk. If that makes any sense? We hardly ever get a drink when we go out somewhere, we will partake of wine in our own home. Plus, my husband is a deacon. So part of me feels like I'm doing wrong, but part of feels like I'm not. I don't know. It's weird, ha! I also want to go to all the wineries in NC, but that doesn't make me any less of a Christian than I am! Or so I think? haha I look up to you so much, in so many way! You're such a sweet & honest girl! I appreciate this post. Glad to have 'met' you! :)

Leah said...

okay girlfriend. we must meet. you have me in tears right now and wish i could run to you and hug you so tightly. your heart shines through my screen, i love it and how you share every bit of it with such courage and encouragement. you are a gem my dear. xo.

Hilda said...

Yay, no alcohol! you can do it, girl! it will be hard at first but you can overcome it. :)

Heather said...

Oh Amy, I love this post and your sweet, sweet spirit! Growing up in Church, it was rammed down my throat, "drinking is BAD, and if you drink, you're going straight to Hell!". Well, now that I'm an adult and a little more mature and more knowledgeable about Bible topics...drinking isn't bad, for some people...but for other people it can be a major stumbling block! Myself, I've never had a drinking problem, so when I partake in a glass of wine or beer I don't feel guilt because I stop with one, and I don't drink for comfort or in social situations. I just enjoy a nice glass of wine now and then :). What I'm so proud of, though, is that you KNOW it's a stumbling block for yourself and you abstain from it altogether. That, my friend, is Christian maturity!

Shannon @Imperfectly Perfect Grace said...

You are growing sooo much right now Amy. I feel like your posts are so in tune with what God is speaking into your heart...and you're choosing to listen and walk in what he wants for you at this time...its really amazing! Proud of you!

Julie said...

Sweet girl, you are so awesome. And such a strong and amazing inspiration to me. I'm sure this wasn't an easy choice, but I am so so glad you are following what God has placed on your heart. I personally don't have to worry about alcohol yet, but I'm not exactly sure how I'll approach it once I'm 21. I know for sure I never want to overindulge, and since Matt turned 21, he has been an awesome example for me. I think that this decision is soooo wonderful for you. I'm so proud of you, and thank you as usual for having such an honest and open heart <3

Cassie said...

Amy!

I just want you to know that your posts are a blessing; never be nervous to post. It is meant for you to write it.

I personally do not drink - occasionally I have a margarita with mexican and when I say occasionally I mean I do order it once a blue moon, have about 3 sips and then I never drink anymore of it.

I have diagnosed myself with an alcohol allergy. My neck breaks out in a rash, I will throw up - doesn't matter what I drink, and so on. It just isn't worth it to me.

My 25th birthday in New Orleans showed me that I would rather have a great time with my girlfriends without feeling bad, figuratively and physically.

You do what is best for you. Anyone who thinks otherwise isn't the "girlfriend" you should be spending quality time with anyway. :)

Love,
Cassie

www.cassandralynn23.blogspot.com

Megan Westmoreland said...

you have such an awesome heart and i love this. it's tough sometimes to talk about things like this because so often christians don't want to hear it. don't want to be told they can or can not. i love that you shared this and will for sure listen to that sermon :) blessings sweet girl!

Alesha said...

This was such a beautiful post! You share your journey in such a raw and beautiful way. Thank you for being so real and humble about it. It was humbling to me to hear the grace and humility in your story! It was beautiful to hear!
Alesha

Jennifer said...

I love you.

that's basically all. oh and I'm proud of you, too.

xo, friend!

Jennifer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Olivia said...

So proud of you for knowing and following through with what is right for you and your life and not worrying about all of the people around you. Such an inspiration!

Hannah said...

I like this. Thank you for sharing, Amy, and I'm proud of you for being so open to what the Lord is saying to you about your life! For reals!

Lovelyladyjb said...

Amy - what an exciting post! I was just talking about this with my sister. I, too, experienced a very similar experience like you. I thought that well I can stop at 1 or 2, and it never worked. I realized for me that it was a hindrance to what God had in store for me and he helped me to abstain from it all together. I love your testimony, it really is freeing to hear someone that has gone through the same things as I have.

Leigh said...

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU firstly for visiting and linking to this post! And second, thank you for writing this! I find that too many Christians are legalistically caught up in the battle of whether to drink or not and it's all for the wrong reasons. 1 Corinthians 10:23 confirms that we are free to drink and free to abstain. It is truly a personal decision and a heart check (why am I drinking?) You've done that and your transparency has blessed me
<3 Leigh