Around the time that I turned twenty-one, I decided that I didn’t want to drink alcohol anymore. For any American, that would be the tell-tale sign that I started drinking way before I was supposed to considering I stopped when I should have legally started. Every so often, when I tell people that I have chosen not to consume alcohol in any form, I get a lot of perplexed looks and “you’re weird” commentary. People seem genuinely confused by this decision as if me deciding not to drink somehow lowers me a few notches on the invisible “normal” or “cool” scale.
Before I go any further, I’d like to say that I am by no means judging anyone who decides to drink by writing this. At the end of the day, what you decide to do with your life, your body and what you choose to consume or not consume is totally up to you. I’m simply sharing my truth and stance on the topic. *phew* I just had to get that disclaimer out there. Carrying on.
The truth for me? I choose not to drink anymore because I believe that what I do with my body is in direct correlation to my relationship and view of Jesus Christ. Yup. That’s the overall blanket truth. While I recognize that having wine in moderation or on occasion is biblical (turning water into wine was actually Jesus’ first miracle), I also recognize that moderation isn’t my strong suit, I’ve never once felt better after consumption and I recognize that my actions while NOT sober does little to nothing to point people to the man who loved me enough to die for me or help me to share the Gospel effectively.
When I think about why people drink, it’s usually not simply for the fun of it (though I’m aware it very well could be). At the last social gathering I attended, I looked around the room and saw a variety of justifications for the next shot, beer, or mixed drink:
A. Adding The Crutch.
If you’re anything like me, a little bit of ‘liquid courage’ could take you from being the person in the corner who has only said a total of maybe three words for the entire night to being the one in the middle of the dance floor and the life of the party. We often indulge in this seemingly harmless thing to help give us the boost that we need. Do you want to interact more? Laugh more? Love better? Be more confident? Here! Have a drink! This is an unfortunate problem because it’s creating in us this idea that we cannot step out of our comfort zones without help.
B. The Run Away.
Drinking can be the escape we all need from the crappy areas of life. A bad report, a recent breakup, depression we feel that we can never tell anyone about. This doesn’t have to include getting crap-faced drunk but in someways, even that one glass of wine could be just the thing you think you need. I hear people say all the time after a crap day “I need a glass of wine! Or three!” Why? Is there more power in this alcoholic beverage to repair you than anything else more sustainable? Can we instead choose to face our issues head on instead of hiding or running from them?
C. Everyone’s Doing It.
Ah what an original excuse! I know first hand all about this one. No one wants to be the odd one out – the only one not doing something if it seems like everyone else is doing it and enjoying it. In all honesty, that is one of the biggest lies from the Enemy. Just because everyone is doing something doesn’t make it good. In fact, I’ve found more joy in going against the grain than following the crowd. The best part about being a Christian is I know I’ll hold different views from what’s considered normal in many other areas of life so adding “I don’t drink” to the list is just one other thing I’m more than happy to have a conversation about in relation to everything else I don’t do. Don’t become a slave to “keeping up” with people. Stop allowing the Enemy to tempt you with fake shiny things and fake truths. His lies are cheap and you’re worth so much better.
I have never had a healthy relationship with alcohol. Whether I was drinking to mask insecurity, pain or trying desperately to “fit in”, I never liked the flavor or feeling of a “little buzz” enough to see actual pleasure in it. Drinking as a teenager and even a little bit in my early college years caused me to do a lot of stupid things. Throwing myself at people for sloppy attention, flirting with guys as I flaunted fake confidence knowing I would be absolutely awkward sober or ending up in my bed, changed into clothing I didn’t put on myself and waking up the next day unable to do anything due to an extremely awful hangover and zero recollection of the night before are all just a few of the highlights of my time with alcohol. The bittersweet reality is I am now forced to be a little bit uncomfortable saying no to the thing, having to force the real me to interact in a crowded room without help and to be an actual example and vessel for Christ everywhere I go – even if it looks like everyone around me is having just a little bit more fun.
I don’t get to call myself a new creation in Christ and still submit myself to old habits. I submit fully to the savior and Him alone. I don’t get to say, “hey, let me tell you about the amazing, free grace that God provides and how He’s changed my life” to my friends, family and even strangers and raise a glass to my mouth to help me deal with the dark stuff that God wants to actually use and heal me from. I choose not to drink because it does absolutely nothing positive for me. I choose not to indulge in what society tells me is normal. I choose to face life as my TRUE, sober self that isn’t always (or ever if I’m honest) the life of the party. I choose to carry myself with grace, class, dignity and Godly confidence through God’s power every single day – not just on Sundays – and do all I can to be an example to a hurting generation.
Understand that God wants the very best for us and He isn’t reigning over us with a judgmental look and keeping us from having a good time. If a celebratory glass of champagne or wine is what you want to have on a special occasion, by all means raise your glass. But know yourself. Know your boundaries. Know your why. All things in moderation they say. But make sure you’re deciding for yourself. Not your friends, not your social circle and definitely not society as a whole. As a Christian, I firmly believe that it is our job to go against what is “standard” or “normal” in secular culture and do what we can to live out the instructions found in God’s word.
I no longer have anything to prove to anyone, not even myself. I’m too mature to try to fit into a mold that isn’t mine. I’m too loved by God to not want to be used well and I am too precious to subject myself to anything less than the very best and if you didn’t know this before, the same is true for you.
Before you leave here thinking I can’t get down with the get down, stop yourself right now. I can still two-step to a good dance track and I’ll still dominate in a good ‘ol game of flip cup with a glass full of iced tea. Trust me, you want me on your team.