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.