One of the blessings of writing for public consumption is the freedom to be authentic and transparent. There’s a release that I’ve discovered which accompanies being emotionally raw and naked with my words.
The plus side is I get to enjoy it while never experiencing the fear of getting run down and tazed in my boxers by an overweight security guard on a football field in front of 80,000 rabid fans.
However, sometimes the blessing becomes the burden, gnawing at my insides and wrestling with my will.
What will people think? What will my family think? Am I typing away at something that will encourage others or simply sharpening a sword that I’ll have to fall on days later? All the turmoil I’ve endured over writing this has left me only with the conviction that it’s that much more important to pursue it.
What I’m trying to say is the battle with alcohol dependency in my life isn’t over. Several months ago I wrote about my struggle with depression and the ensuing substance abuse, as well as my subsequent breakthrough in that battle.
The theme of this year in my life has been one of triumph as I’ve learned to trust the Lord more and more, and the man I am today is certainly a far cry from the boy I described in those posts. The days of binge drinking and beer bongs are over and the temptation to return is gone.
However, I made a mistake.
To be clear, I believe there’s nothing sinful about an adult enjoying a cocktail on occasion. The mistake came in when I convinced myself it was permissible for me to have one. The Lord showed me clearly that I don’t possess the strength to maintain a healthy relationship. Still, I decided I knew better, mistaking a healthier relationship as a healthy one. Besides, my Christian friends get to enjoy a beer. Why can’t I?
Twice this year I’ve quit drinking, but I did so for the wrong reasons. Whether I knew it or not at the time, I was trying to change something about my behavior momentarily in order to experience a reward or permanent new level with God.
I’ve never had a works-based theology and how I could allow my reasoning to be so twisted I can’t explain.
Yet today, here I am putting it out there for the world to see. I can no longer consume alcohol. Frankly, I’m embarrassed, but it’s to the point that it’s worth it. It’s worth any fear or doubting, ridicule or failure. I can’t count the times in the past I’ve “quit” only to return to my vice.
I have friends that have heard this song from me before, and I cringe to think of them rolling their eyes at the Boy Who Cried Wolf.
This shift isn’t occurring because I ever wake up hitting the bottle before work, nor could I rightly be accused of passing out in a drunken stupor alone at home. The reason is because alcohol is a towering idol in my life.
Frankly it’s one of many, and I’m ready to take a sledgehammer to my idols because I’ve put them before Christ for way too long.
His broken body and the blood that was shed as a symbol of His unfailing love has pierced my heart to the point that I no longer want to block anything that keeps it from growing closer to Him. As I wrote in July, how He loves us. Oh how He loves us. It’s far past time for me to love Him back by putting Him first.
The purpose here isn’t to grandstand. I needed to raise the stakes, to shed light on the dark places. If my primary prescription for a long week of stress at the office is a beer or two, then it’s time to change doctors. It isn’t helping. When I run to my God, He isn’t just my Helper, He’s my Healer. My heart has changed. I want more Healer and less of everything else.
I run to Him now, empty handed, leaving it all behind.
Search out the idols in your own life. It doesn’t require a Facebook announcement or blog post to shed light on the dark places, but take whatever steps are necessary. Endure every bit of momentary discomfort to place yourself at the throne with heavy heart and empty hands.
There you will find a bottle that flows freely, quenching and sustaining without end.
*Photo credit: MartinPettit