I have been wanting to write about alcohol for a while. It seems so many wonderful people in my life are affected by this one word, either as a victim of someone else’s over-indulgence with alcohol or perhaps even their own.
Alcohol is one of those things that affects generations. Children grow up hating their alcoholic parents, only to become alcoholics themselves. Or perhaps alcoholic parents are funnier or friendlier when they drink, and give their children a notion that alcoholics aren’t bad, but rather it’s a normal way of living.
Full disclosure, I am not an alcoholic but I have been affected by alcohol. Despite my other issues and flaws, alcohol isn’t one of them. For some reason, I don’t suffer from hang overs, and there has been a very brief period of my life where I would drink a few drinks each evening and just love the overall ‘warmth’ it gave me and that’s when I realized I so easily could become an alcoholic. In that moment, I made a decision that I would not raise my children to have an alcoholic mother and I stopped drinking each day. I knew that if I continued, and allowed alcohol to control me, those were the days I would one day look back on and think “why didn’t I stop then?”
I do have the occasional drink, a bit of wine with company, or a nice cocktail during a fancy dinner out. I am not against moderate amounts of alcohol at all. Biblically based, moderation with drinking isn’t an issue, in fact Paul even writes to Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:23, “Don’t drink only water. You ought to drink a little wine for the sake of your stomach because you are sick so often.” Notice the word little there – Paul isn’t encouraging alcoholism or overindulgence but is encouraging Timothy to drink a little wine to help his body, scholars believe because Timothy struggled from indigestion perhaps even because of contaminated water.
I have seen the damage of alcohol in many different relationships in my life unfortunately. Alcohol changes people. It causes them to become completely different versions of themselves, often less wonderful versions. Alcohol taints judgement and has ruined so many families, and relationships between husband and wife, parent and child, and even friendships. The problem is that each of us has free will to choose. We can choose to drink or not. We can choose to get help or not.
We can choose to break the cycle of alcohol abuse or not.
Too many don’t. My heart breaks for you if you’re in that situation. If you have a parent, or a spouse who has made alcohol a priority above you in their life, I am truly sorry for you. If you are struggling with alcohol yourself and find yourself in this position where you can’t seem to stop, I am also truly sorry for you.
Let me tell you, God’s plan for our lives was not to see us controlled by a substance, either as the addict or as the person who loves the addict. God created us to be victorious in life. He created us to be full of joy and love. He created us to be loved, and to love others. We were not meant to live in our own bondage, or the bondage someone else created for us.
If you prayed to God for help getting someone to stop drinking, and they didn’t, I’m so sorry. God can reach hearts, but at the end of the day He didn’t create us to be robots who He controls, He created us to be people with free will who choose their own path.
God didn’t give you an alcoholic parent, or spouse, but rather He gave you a person who was created to be more than that, but choose differently with their own free will. If that applies to you, I am so sorry. I know it wasn’t God’s plan for your life, and I know that God’s heart breaks when our hearts break. For every tear you cried, He was there crying too. I am sure of that because the Bible is FULL of references to how much God loves us, and the fact that he gave us Jesus also shows that too.
He created the heavens, the earth, the animals and even us. He doesn’t owe us anything, and yet, despite that, he sent Jesus to us, made of flesh and blood just like us. Jesus was with God in the very beginning of creation. He was there all along. So why send him to earth to be born in a barn, growing up to only get about 3 years to teach people before he would be illegally tried, beaten, flogged and crucified? Why would anyone want to come to earth from the glorious place that Heaven is to die that way?! Because if God made Jesus flesh and blood like us, then we would be able to relate to him because he went through the struggles of this world. He grew up, went through the awkward phases we did, learned to navigate the adult world, and he did it all without fault. He was blameless and sinless, a perfect example of a life well lived, and a sacrifice for all of us when he died.
For those struggling with addiction themselves, we can look to Jesus for help and inspiration.
Yes, Jesus drank, in fact his very first miracle written about in the Bible was when he turned water into wine at a wedding. But, that was so guests could enjoy a celebratory glass of wine, and not a reference to us that he drank, so we can drink what we want, when we want too! Jesus did not have a problem with alcohol. That is inspiring to teach us moderation and control.
But, he does understand those who do have that problem. Hebrews 4:15-16 says, “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” When they are referring to Jesus here as a High Priest, its because the Jewish people had a High Priest who represented them to God, and Jesus became that person for all of us. But the main point, Jesus UNDERSTANDS our weaknesses, for he faced the SAME testings we do, yet he DID NOT sin.
Accepting Jesus as your Saviour allows the Holy Spirit to enter your body, and that Holy Spirit can help you conquer so much including addiction, but for some its not as simple as that and its okay to need more help through counselling or support groups, which I will write about in a moment.
The second half of verse 16 brings so much hope, saying that we will receive God’s mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. God doesn’t hate you because you couldn’t break the cycle. God doesn’t hate you because you spend day after day drinking. God doesn’t hate you because your parent, spouse, child or friend, reflects hate upon you during their own drinking. He loves us despite our flaws, mistakes and addictions. He loves us more than we can ever imagine, even (I’d even say especially) when we feel full of guilt and shame. He wants you to choose your free will to chase Him, seek Him, rather than anything in this world who you are trying to replace Him with.
Our church hosts an amazing support group called Celebrate Recovery. There are CR programs all around, so I encourage you to search for one in your area (http://www.celebraterecovery.ca/). Its a Christ-centred 12 step program for anyone with any hurt, habit or hang up, and it brings SO much healing for addicts, victims, and anyone with any struggle, even co-dependency, over-eating, sexual abuse, you name it – someone there has overcome it! I strongly urge you, if you are a child of an alcoholic, a spouse of an alcoholic, or even an alcoholic yourself to check it out. I have shared my blog all over, and so this wont apply to everyone in my life, but for those who live close to me – I am more than willing to accompany you to your first CR if you fear going alone. Please get in touch with me. The very DNA of CR will help every single person who related to any of the words I have written in this message.
The Bible makes it clear that alcohol isn’t bad, over indulgence is.
That can be applied to other aspects of life as well. But, drinking in front of children when you’re responsible for them, drinking to the point of drunkenness, picking alcohol over relationships, going into debt buying alcohol, making poor choices because of drinking all aren’t okay. I don’t need to list all the signs of alcoholism, I’m sure you reading this know.
Some people start their own problem with alcohol because they were shown that was a norm, and don’t know how to cope or handle life without alcohol. Some people drink thinking that it will help them with their anxiety, anger, depression, or various other flaws they see in themselves and want a quick fix for. Often, people are drinking because they are repressing feelings that they simply don’t know how to cope with. These reasons are why I mentioned CR.
Don’t put a band aid over a broken heart. It won’t fix it. It isn’t easy to deal with the root causes of why people become addicts, but the freedom of bondage you will receive by mending your heart properly will last a lifetime. Find the right tools to cope, find supportive people who encourage sobriety, find the missing piece of your heart that you’re covering with alcohol and you will find true peace and joy.
But in the meantime, don’t let your hurts destroy others. The photo I chose for this post is a sunset, a day ending, promising a fresh start tomorrow. I urge you to find a fresh way of life for your tomorrow. I urge you to be an overcomer. I urge you to find the strength to fight your demons off, instead of drowning in them. I urge you to begin to learn truths about yourself to cover the shame and guilt that comes along with an addiction, or I urge you to deal with the pain that comes from being affected by an addict.
Romans 5:8 says, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Like I said, God loves us despite ourselves. Don’t be too hard hearted or ashamed to ask Him for help. Don’t think you need to fix yourself first. Go to God broken, and he can do tremendous work in and through you.
Despite your own addiction, or despite being broken because of the addiction of others, God’s love for you is still so much more than you can ever imagine. “No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loves us.” (Romans 8:37)
“He heals the broken hearted
and bandages their wounds..”
(Psalm 147: 3)