There’s no doubt that 2016 will go down as one of the worst years ever for America, and many other places around the world. This year we lost so many prominent faces to addiction, mental illness, and natural causes. People who were forces in their own rightful arenas. We were also either one side or the other from a toxic and dividing political election that pitted friend against friend and relative against relative. I ended up being on the losing side of things unfortunately, in more ways than one.
It’s safe to say that pretty much everyone is ready for the end of the year, but we have one more holiday to get through first. The one that has so many meanings to so many people. Yes, Christmas; the most misunderstood, stressful, and risky. This holiday affects me in all of the Big 4; Christianity, alcoholism, mental illness, and homosexuality. I always dread going into this holiday because of all the implications it could have on me. Will I forget to acknowledge the true meaning of Christmas? How many events will I go to that there will be alcohol? How will my mind handle the stress and anxiety of all the expectations surrounding this day? How many ‘Clobber Passage’ zealots will I be able to avoid before one of them throws one of those scriptures at me?
Day in and day out I would get up and drink. I would drink first thing in the morning from the bottle of vodka I kept by the nightstand. I would drink from the water bottle full of vodka all day long. I would drink while out with friends. I would take a drink before bed. And, if I woke up in the middle of the night, I would take a drink of the same vodka on the nightstand to go back to sleep. My entire world revolved around the sin of drunkenness. I was a slave to alcohol.
In John we learn that being a slave to sin is where we fall. (John 8:34) We learn that by accepting Christ as our savior, we can then be broken free of that slavery. (John 8:36) By renewal of mind and spirit, we can go about our daily lives a little better than before. When we work on our habits of sin, we can be set free and make our faith and God a top priority. When we slave day in and day out to alcohol, we are putting it before our faith.
We need to ask for God’s forgiveness and salvation when we are a slave to alcohol. It is the only way we can really live a full and happy life in recovery.
We’ve all dealt with them, the ‘One-Uppers’. The ones who have seen and done everything, much better than you of course. The best we can do is nod and then laugh it off, going about our own business doing what we are currently doing in humility and in a non-competitive way. Our faith is the same. I deal with this on a near regular basis at my own work.
Our spirit is not a contest. It is not who says they hear God the most while we others to hear Him at all. It’s not remembers the most Bible verses while others stumble through the Bible trying to keep up with the pastor on Sunday mornings. It’s about you and where you stand with God, not what someone else feels or does. By living a life where we constantly compare ourselves to others and try to get to where they are to feel ‘worthy’, we are doing a disservice to ourselves and also discounting the work God is doing in us as individuals.
We don’t know His plan for us, so the least we can do is be grateful for what we currently have, faith wise, and strive to better for Him, not others.
Everyone’s experiences mean something to them, and most likely mean something to someone else as well. Something I heard pretty regularly in the beginning of my sobriety in online recovery chat rooms (because I wasn’t really in a position to go to in person meetings), my recovery journey was discounted because of either my age or the newness of sobriety. I felt as if my recovery didn’t matter because I didn’t have the years, both age and recovery, to match up to their expectations of knowledge or experience.
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