A friend and I had a code for those days that were about to take us over the edge. "I need a drink". Those words were code for I'm about to pull my hair out! Together in our sweet friendship we would encourage one another through those difficult days. We would sit and share coffee and talk until we felt peace wash every last bit of, "I need a drink", away.
I grew up in an alcoholic family. Everyone drank. Mom, dad, aunts, uncles. Everyone. There were not any family functions in which alcohol didn't play a part. Pick a holiday and I can remember an instance where the drink got to be too much for one and a huge fight would break out. It was normal for our family. Isn't that sad? I grew up thinking this was the norm.
It wasn't until I was married to my husband and in our first year of marriage we went to a family function that I realized it wasn't the norm. No one was drinking. No alcohol was in the building. I even remarked to my husband, "What's going on? No one's drinking". This was a mind blowing thought to me. Could you really have fun and enjoy yourself at a party without alcohol? One sure could. That was one of the greatest evenings we enjoyed together. I witnessed this wonderful Christian family take part is laughter and hugs. And you know what? Not a fight at all broke out.
I haven't had a drink since I sipped champagne with my husband on our wedding night. I was twenty-three. Wait. That's not entirely true. I sipped a bit of champagne at my daughter's wedding. I'm now forty-seven and I still have my days in which I want a drink.
With deep regret I have to be honest. That's the only way to write, isn't it? Just to be simply transparent? I drank as a teen. In fact I drank a lot as a teen. Remember, I thought it was the norm. At age nineteen my dad died of lung cancer. That night after coming home from the hospital I was lost. My world was crushed. Nothing made any sense. My dad was suppose to come home on this day. He was suppose to get better. I walked into the kitchen. Opened the fridge and grabbed a beer. One of my dad's last of his six pack. I took that beer and went out and fell asleep in his boat. You could say that was a life changing night for me. I knew drinking couldn't be a part of my life.
At twenty I became pregnant with my first daughter. Seems, God was blessing me and at the same time was making sure this messed up girl wasn't going to drink. At the time I didn't know Jesus as my Savior. And if you mentioned God to me I would have punched you in the face. Remember. Honesty. I was mad and God was my number one enemy.
When I received Christ into my heart He changed my life forever. As years passed things began to make sense. At least things were becoming clearer to me. No one in my present life drank. Drinking didn't fit into my life. It was then that I understood why so many do drink to excess. They're unhappy, mad, confused, depressed, insecure, and like me, they think drinking is the norm. This could have been any member of my family. In many ways it was me.
So, after being married and having a home of five kiddos, my life was complete. Sure, as a mom and a wife, there are days that you're not sure how it's gonna turn out, but I learned to depend on my Savior. I found joy in so many things. But there in the back of my mind was always the thought, "A drink sure would sound good about right now".
Last week while celebrating my son's birthday our family took a trip to his favorite restaurant. It is almost a three hour drive. Whew. Praise Jesus for gas stations with clean bathrooms! As we made our stop I made my way to the bathroom and then get a drink for the drive. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense doesn't it? As we were paying and getting ready to go out the door I noticed a display of wine from a local winery. What caught my eye was the raspberry wine. I picked it up and as I did my hubs says with a smile, "Yeah, I think we're gonna leave that right where it is". The lady behind the counter giggled at his humor. See, my hubs knows me better than anyone. I love that about him. He knows that at times it is a struggle. I'd love to have a glass of wine. But for me it wouldn't end there. That glass would turn into another and that bottle would soon gather friends.
We have to know ourselves. We have to understand what makes us tick. What could cause us to stumble. Where the temptations are that cause us to question. I think our problem as a society is is that we don't know how to tell ourselves no. We take the easy route. We make excuses. Most of all we aren't able to be accountable.
"And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to god. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace."
"For we know that he law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good."
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
See, for me, drinking is a sin. I know it is a sin because I hear the Lord warning me. He gives me a way out. He fills my heart with everything I need. He gives me strength to overcome. And He reminds me that His sweet grace is always bigger than my sin.
Being tempted isn't a sin. For me, that temptation for that bottle of raspberry wine was real. People just don't drink because something is wrong. Sometimes it is because they actually enjoy the taste. But that is where it must begin and end for me. My lips can't touch that glass of wine. I know what would happen. I've seen it in my family. Alcoholism destroys people. Not just the alcoholic, but those who love them.
"I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law." Galatians 5:16-18
"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
1 Corinthians 15:57
What is your temptation? It may not be a little bottle of raspberry wine. Temptation is anything that calls us away from the will of God. It's anything that could destroy us. Anything that could lead to sin. Jesus knew temptation. He was tempted by Satan. He overcame because He focused on His Father. Don't ya know that Satan too knows our greatest temptations? He lies in wait to deceive us into thinking that one glass of raspberry wine isn't going to hurt us and so what if you have two. He messes with the mind. He brings us to confusion.
This is why it is so valuable for us to dig deep and truly know ourselves. To be honest with ourselves and those around us. Ask for friends to help you be accountable. Share your struggles with others. This is how we know we're not alone. We all face temptations of many kinds. Life is not without them. When we begin to be honest with ourselves is when we will begin to truly grow. Allow Jesus room in our heart so the Spirit can lead us and encourage us to live victory over all that temps us.
"The better you hear His voice and want to follow. If I have presented my body to Him as a living sacrifice, and I'm being transformed by the renewing of my mind, then I'm able to prove-to put to the test-what His will is. He will show me that which is good, acceptable, and perfect for me."