Freedom to Choose

I am going out on a vulnerable limb here…

I am an alcoholic.
Not a practicing one, but an alcoholic with the switch OFF at this moment.

Why would you tell us that, Kate?

Well because I want to be real and authentic. I also want to be relatable. I also tell you because that is where I am at today and I just might not be alone. This is a Spiritual War Zone.

I got paid this morning, and as always, there was a temptation to buy alcohol. It’s an automatic habit left over from my drinking days. Most of the time it’s just a passing thought; a rare blip on the radar. But today… I had to fight with help from above.

Background:

  1. I do not believe drinking is a sin.

But being drunk, out of control of my thoughts, emotions, and actions – is a sin. It is a sin because some really ugly things can occur when an alcoholic gets drunk. UGLY… as in domestic violence, and car accidents that kill innocent people, even affairs. Those are the horrific ones. There are “smaller ones” by cultural standards: telling off your mother-in-law, embarrassing your children, unleashing foul words and thoughts at friends, even missing work and lying about it.

Just plain UGLY!

   2.  Alcohol in a small amount relaxes me.

It helps most people relax. My problem is I start to feel good.
Suddenly I’m not stressed and uptight. I know it won’t last…so I have just one more. But eventually, I worry that the second one won’t last. I do not want to go back to being stressed so I have just one more.
In a night out, that might not be too bad. Literally 3 drinks in 4 hours with friends is not bad for most people. My problem is that it turns out to be 3 drinks before the average “normal” person has even finished one. All the agonizing over when it would last, and maybe another or not, leading up to 3 drinks can occur in only 30 minutes. Three drinks in 30 minutes is dangerous and stupid. It is also unpredictable in an alcoholic.

You might think with all that introspection that I would be rational and stay away from it. But the initial relaxing is a feeling alcoholics chase and/or desire the rest of their lives.

So back to this morning…. The thoughts were there. Just ONE big tall beer. After all, they cost ONLY $1.59. Sure it’s one – one at 8% at 25 oz so it’s like 3 beers. But you do see the lies: Its’ just one. It’s cheap.

So, I prayed. I prayed for God to take away my desire if it wasn’t ok with Him. I prayed for God to send me a sign that I should not drink this morning… for God to back up what I already knew to be true. But on my errands, God did not take away my desire. God did not speak to me. God did not give me a sign such as seeing a drunk person (to discourage me), or playing a song on my station to support good behavior. I got NOTHING…. Nothing except a desire to pray and turn it over to God.

The alcohol, 100% of the time will provide me with an initial relaxed feeling.——- But, I personally do not have a 100% record of turning things over to God. I do not have a solid record of allowing God to help me feel better, prouder and become accomplished with my day.

You, personally, may not be an alcoholic. I hope you are not! I would not wish this disorder on anyone. But, you DO, personally have your own struggles that do not make you proud. They are ugly to you. They haunt you at times and lie telling you it doesn’t matter “much” or “this ONE time”.

It might not be a “HUGE sin”. Maybe its fudging the truth to your spouse (just this once—again). Maybe it is spending more than you can really afford and against your budget. Maybe its gossip. Or maybe, it is flirting with “that person” (because you are “sure” it is harmless and won’t go anywhere). The point is we all have our struggles. We all have times when the enemy whispers in our ears that “ it is OK just this once” .

Who is really going to know?

Who is really going to hurt?

The answer to both those questions are:

            God
            Self
            Others (possibly)

God forgives us—ABSOLUTELY   ALL THE TIME—that is not the issue. The issue is, we have been set free and are no longer slaves to the flesh. Romans 6:14-19 states: For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone (or something) as obedient slaves, you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, OR to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you USED TO be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from you heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness? I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and the ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.

Capitalization and parenthesis are mine. NIV version used.

We have been set free from our obligation & obedience to our faulty desires. Not all desires are problematic. I will leave discernment to you. We have GRACE. We have God’s power to overcome on our side.

But take note. Nowhere in those verses, nor in the entire Bible, does it say, “doing the right thing will always feel good.” Our flesh & temptations are strong. The enemy is cunning. Life could be temporarily easier and fun-er if we give in just “this once”. But we don’t have to. And when we choose the right path we no longer suffer guilt and self-condemnation. We do not make it easier to flub up the next time too.

Did I want to give in today? Yes. I did. Today was not just a random, harmless, passing thought . It was a strong temptation to give into my weakness. One time might not hurt. But each one time added to the next one time creates a bad habit that I would not be proud of. Gratifying the flesh is momentary gain. Doing what is right had long term benefits and pay offs.

Today I did not give in. I gave myself a different pleasure. I bought a box of caramel macchiato creamers. Cheaper that 2 beers. Lasts for 48 cups of coffee. I get to spend the whole day—and as many days as the creamer lasts—to be proud of myself. I have no guilt. I do not condemn myself. I will go to the Father but not to repent. I go before the throne in thanksgiving that He has given me an out. He had given me choices to do what is right because I am no longer a slave to sin. I have freedom, choices, and God’s help (and tenacity) to see me through.

Today or tomorrow when the urge:

to eat the whole carton of ice cream hits
(even though your goal is to lose 10lbs and get off insulin)
OR   you really want to skip that after work meditation group
(but with high blood pressure you need it)
OR you want to tell Sally you are sick so you can get together with Brenda
(after all Sally is going through so much it’s a drain—and Brenda is always up beat)….

Just stop.

You are not a slave to temptation. You are not a slave to immediate gratification. You walk in the GRACE and strength of the Lord. And with that we have the freedom to do what’s right.

Until next time,
Blessings, Kate