Today is my half birthday. And to be honest, it's not something that I usually give much thought to. It comes and it goes, and with it, there may be a brief "dang, half way through the year" moment.
This year, things are a bit different. This year, the day doesn't only mark the fact that I am half way through my 24th year. This year, it also marks that I am 6 months into sobriety. And that is something I want to celebrate.
I haven't written much about it since the 60 day mark, but today, I want to jot down some thoughts. I haven't shared much in the last 4 months because to be honest, it doesn't feel like a big deal. It's like one day I drank, and the next day I didn't anymore. I haven't once questioned my decision, or felt tempted to have a drink.
It doesn't feel like a big deal, but the fact is, it is. It is a big deal. I wasn't exactly a casual drinker; alcohol was very much a part of my life. And now, it's not. And I have a man named Jesus Christ to thank for that.
Six months ago, as I celebrated my 24th birthday at a worship concert, I tangibly experienced the freedom of the gospel in a way I never had before. You may be thinking "wow, what a goody-two-shoes Christian, celebrating her birthday at a worship concert." And to that, I would beg to differ.
I needed that worship concert. I needed those lyrics blasting in my ears telling me that God's grace covers me. I needed to hear that I am redeemed, restored, and that nothing, nothing can separate me from His love. I needed it because I was dealing with so much shame from poor decisions made the evening before.
The feeling of guilt over decisions made while intoxicated was not unfamiliar to me. As a matter of fact, it was quite the opposite. I knew it so well, the tossing and turning of an anxious stomach, the nervous thoughts of who could possibly be mad at me, the heavy weight of shame.
I sat there wondering if I was ever going to beat this, this battle with alcohol. I wondered if this was going to plague me all of my life. I had tried and tried to be a "responsible drinker," and it just wasn't feeling possible. And right as the anxious thoughts were building, a voice broke through them.
"You are free to abstain."
And boom. I was.
For the first time in my life, I felt the freedom that I have in the Lord. I felt it wash over me, rid me of all of my guilt and shame. I saw the gift right in front of me, and consciously realized that all I had to do was grab it.
Grab it, I did. And nothing has been the same since. The girl who had tried and failed to give up alcohol many times before, even cried over the fear of how it would affect friendships, suddenly was overwhelmed with peace. The peace that only comes from the Lord.
I gradually broke the news to friend after friend, and was so incredibly blessed by the support of each one. Some had seen this battle first hand, and others may not have fully understood the decision, but all were supportive. All were loving. All were proud.
I learned so much about myself in those first few months. I saw how much of my security was wrapped up in alcohol. I had to bring that straight to the Lord, who helped me face all of those fears of being inferior without a glass in my hand.
I learned so much about my friends. I can't tell you how much it blessed me when someone specifically brought a non-alcoholic drink just for me. Or how much it blessed me to receive invites to things like a wine club party, or to be asked to help pour drinks at a festival.
I was so humbled by the love and support of others. I once was afraid that giving up alcohol would cause me to lose friendships, and I can happily say that it has only strengthened them.
From the outside, my life doesn't look very different now. I go to all of the same events, and even hold the same glasses in my hand. The only differences may be that I make a whole lot less ugly faces while sipping beverages, and DD more than I used to.
But on the inside? There's a big difference. And I have no way to describe that other than to say I feel free. And it feels good.
For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
// 2 Corinthians 3:17 //
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
// John 8:36 //
In my distress I prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered me and set me free.
// Psalm 118:5 //