For 16 years I did not touch a drop of alcohol. When I did drink from the ages of 21-24 I drank like most young adults in the U.S. do, which is a lot. Actually though after figuring it out with a friend, my drinking during that period was pretty mellow in comparison to most folks. I got smashed somewhere between 5-10 times (smashed meaning drinking to the point of throwing up). Quite frankly I hated & still hate throwing up so when an ex got me to try pot, I took to it like a dog to a bone until I retired my ways at 24. Once weed came into the picture I hardly drank and when I drank I never focused on tasting the beverage. The point when drinking until I found pot was to party. The point of drinking after I found pot was to fill in if I ran out.
My high school drinking was also rather sub par in comparison to my peers and really, does anyone before 18 drink alcohol for the taste of it? Did I sneak it sometimes? Did I get drunk? Yes to both questions, but I guess getting drunk twice & drinking about once a month from 16-18 years old is not very much. Who knew?!
From 18 to 21 years and then age 24 to 2 months ago I didn’t touch any alcohol or illegal (or now legal marijuana) substances. I still won’t touch pot (or hard alcohol or drugs) with an 80 ft. pole but that’s another story. Most of my adult life I’ve been sober. Not just dry, but in recovery sober. To be honest I always thought I would be, and today I’m so grateful to be out of recovery and know I’m not and never was an alcoholic.
There is a whole long story around how I came to be in and stay in AA and later Al-anon. That will be a post for another time. What I want to say today is that I have left behind a world that never truly felt genuine and for most of those 22 years I tried to make myself fit into a paradigm that never gave me any enduring joy, freedom, or serenity. If alcohol panic is the means to spiritual enlightenment, then I’ll never get there.
Prior to trying drinking the wife & I came up with some rules. First & foremost is that we pray before having a glass of wine or beer. Someone recently thought that was odd when I told them, but we feel nothing should be hidden from the Lord. Once I try to cover up (like Adam & Eve in the garden) anything I do, then it’s clear I ought not do it. We also decided to pay attention to our behavior when drinking and committed to never get drunk. There is a strong Biblical basis for this.
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit. -Ephesians 5:18
The Bible discusses drinking, especially wine, quite a lot, in both the positive and negative. There is debate between Christians about what the Word says regarding if believers should drink but it doesn’t appear to be an either/or issue. What is not ok is drunkenness. And this makes sense because if I’m putting booze first, ultimately that’s idolatry. In fact most of the times in the Bible where there is a lot of immorality going on, idol worship of various kinds is happening. One could almost say idolatry & debauchery go together because when we’re not putting the Lord first, were swayed to follow foolish ways.
In a way this is what happened to me in 12 step recovery. I put AA theology before Jesus Christ.
Over the last couple months our drinking has been tentative. We’ve taken our explorations one by one asking for God’s protection along the way. To my amazement not only am I able to stop at one drink, I prefer it! It is not a joyful experience to feel buzzed. My friend last week said “I like sipping wine rather than drinking it” and that is the perfect explanation for how I ingest it too. It’s not a struggle to “keep from drinking too much” or something I have to think much about, though I do continue & will continue to pray about it. One doesn’t go from brainwashed sober renegade to a lady who knows 2009 was a good year for wine in Chile without some scrutinizing of motives.
All that being said it has been very exciting to learn more about wine and craft beer. It’s been fun to learn what I like (Cabernet Sauvignon, Viognier, sour ales, and semi dry ciders) and what I don’t (anything sweet or bitter). At my first ever wine tasting at a lovely winery in Hillsboro I learned that I’m a natural at picking up subtle flavors in smelling and tasting wines and my palette could be of use in the wine business. Wouldn’t that be a hoot to switch from a life of fear of drinking to working in a business that required my being able to make distinctions in tasting wine?!
How wonderful it has been to be set free and have choices. Do I have to “control” my drinking? Sure. What in life don’t we attempt to control from eating to intimacy to having pets? All the gifts God gives us requires us to think, evaluate, calibrate, and try to use the gifts to glorify Him. But that’s what maturity is…having to make choices over and over again if and when we’ve gone too far and sinned. Instead of eliminating something that is not in and of itself depraved, we bring our burdens to Jesus.
We have been blessed and protected in our wine adventures. I have this great tee shirt that says “Jesus is enough.” And truly He is!